New Covid-19 survey shows public support for a basic income grant, continuation of food parcels

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Food parcels ready for the Cape Town leg of the Gift of the Givers nationwide food parcel distribution.
Food parcels ready for the Cape Town leg of the Gift of the Givers nationwide food parcel distribution.
Jenni Evans, News24
  • An online survey shows strong support for extending social grants.
  • The top favoured policy proposals in the survey were food parcels, increasing the value of social grants and the R350 Covid relief grant.
  • The data was sourced from nearly 8 000 "representative" respondents.

An online "Covid-19 democracy" survey by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) shows strong public support for the continuation of food parcels and extending social grants.

Participants were asked to indicate which of the 13 policy proposals provided they favoured. 

"From this list, food parcels (70% support), increasing the value of social grants (69%), and the R350 Covid relief grant (69%) were the top ranked policy options.

"This was followed, in descending order, by the introduction of a basic income grant (61%), payment holiday on accounts, rent, taxes (46%), allowing people to stop paying and be refunded school fees for the time schools are closed (44%), and providing free cellphone data (41%)," UJ said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to the higher education institution, the support for the said policy measures showed there was a demand for social protection measures to address the lack of cash income and basic food needs that had intensified under lockdown.

READ | SA faced with double storm of Covid-19 and hunger, warns Zulu

In addition, it also showed hunger had become a pressing issue under lockdown "with 4 in 10 adults reporting going to bed hungry and 8 in 10 adults reporting difficulty in paying their expenses".

"The findings of the survey show that there is strong public support for policy interventions that would assist the most vulnerable in our society.

Measures

"This includes not only immediate measures, such as providing food parcels or the R350 social relief of distress grant, but also long term measures, such as the introduction of a basic income grant, which could do much to alleviate poverty and inequality in our society," UJ Associate Professor at the Centre for Social Change, Professor Carin Runciman explained.

READ | Ramaphosa dismisses rumours of a return to lockdown Level 3

Runciman added that the fact that public support was high for such measures, was a sign that there was a significant demand on government for policy interventions that would tackle poverty and extreme inequality.

These findings came from round 2 of the UJ/HSRC Covid-19 democracy survey, which was conducted between 3 July and 8 September.

The data from this round comprised of 7 966 respondents.

This was achieved through an online survey using the popular #datafree Moya Messenger app, which had two million active users.

"Findings have been weighted to match Statistics South Africa data on race, education and age, and can be regarded as broadly representative of the population at large," UJ concluded.

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