Black Sash to Tito Mboweni: 'R10 grant increase can't even pay for a loaf of bread'

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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
  • Black Sash is asking Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to reconsider only increasing the Caregiver Grant by R10. 
  • The organisation says the R30 top-up for the Old Age Grant is also not in line with escalating food prices. 
  • Black Sash says Mboweni has been silent on the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on poor households.

The Black Sash has written to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to ask that he reconsider only increasing the Caregiver Grant by R10 and the Old Age Grant by R30, in the light of "runaway food prices". 

"Minister Tito Mboweni, in the 2021 Budget Speech on Wednesday, 24 February, failed to address the escalating humanitarian crisis that currently threatens the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people," wrote Black Sash national director Lynette Maart.

"Based on years of community-based monitoring in both rural and peri-urban areas, the Black Sash would like to give you a sense of the profound impact of this budget on grant recipients and their families," she wrote. 

Citing examples of people's struggles to make ends meet, she said the R10 increase in the Caregiver Grant would not even pay for a loaf of bread. 

READ | TERS benefit will remain for some sectors, says Ramaphosa

The R30 increase in the Old Age Grant leaves the elderly unable to keep up with escalating food prices or to pay their rent. 

She said a temporary disability grant applicant, waiting for a reassessment, would not have the money to buy the food required before taking their medication. 

"The increase of R10 for the Child Support Grant (CSG) and Foster Care Grants, and R30 for the Old Age and Disability Grants, is pocket change," wrote Maart. 

"These increases will do very little to minimise the humanitarian crisis of increasing hunger, food insecurity, structural unemployment and income inequality made far worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

READ | Mboweni unapologetic about social grants: We pay 'what we could afford'

"A third wave of infections is now seen as an inevitability.

"As you are aware, the Covid-19 vaccine rollout has only just begun, but there is no indication how long it will take to achieve herd immunity."

Maart said the social development budget has been subjected to an average annual decrease of 2.2%, from R230.8 billion in 2020/21 to R216.1 billion in 2023/24.

"The budget dangerously assumes that the Social Relief of Distress Grants, for adults aged 18 to 59 years, with no to little income, will not be necessary after April 2021.

Cuts

"With these budget cuts, the government seems to have reneged on its constitutional and international obligations," she said. 

The Black Sash reiterated its call for Basic Income Support, within the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, for those with no to little income between the ages of 18 to 59 years.

They also called for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant, including provision for adult women who receive the CSG on behalf of children, to continue beyond April 2021.

This grant should be converted into permanent Basic Income Support, valued at least at the Food Poverty Line of R585, while progressively working towards the Upper Bound Poverty Line (currently R1 268).

"All social grants must at least be adjusted to the inflation rate to avoid further erosion of the value of the grants," said Maart, who also asked for a meeting with Mboweni.

Comment was requested from Treasury and will be added once received. 

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