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Africa Check dispels ‘myths’ about social grants

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A researcher at NGO Africa Check has rejected concerns that social grants are creating a sense of entitlement and laziness amongst recipients, insisting that there is little empirical data to suggest this is the case. The independent fact-checking organization are seeking to dispel the myths and misconceptions that persist around social grants and those that receive them.

The group’s research put together data from various studies conducted across the country, including academic research from several universities.

Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, Researcher Louise Ferreira said that whilst cases of ‘laziness’ amongst recipients were prevalent, the majority were reluctant to be dependent on the state-provided funds.

The number of grant recipients in South Africa has increased dramatically in recent years, leading to suggestions that the current economic climate has pushed more citizens to the brink of poverty and to the point where such grants are a necessity. But she refuted such suggestions, noting that the increases were a result of grant criteria having changed over the years.

“It’s not so much that we have more needy people, although we do have a large number of very poor and needy people in SA. Grants have been extended by the criteria being changed. The child grant for example was only for children up until the age of 7, and it was gradually extended until the teenage years and now the age of 18,” she explained.

In the case of child grants, the common rhetoric has been that it encourages teenage pregnancies in order to gain some form of income for a household. But whilst talk of such practices is common, Ferreira stressed that there was very little evidence to support these claims.

“The interesting point is that even amongst grant recipients themselves, misconceptions exist. Even those that get the grants will think that there are teenagers who get pregnant deliberately in order to access the grant, even though this is not true,” she said.

She was also critical of talk that recipients and those less fortunate were more prone to squandering money, claiming that they were in fact more likely to be financially savvy compared to those well off.

“Obviously you will always have people who do abuse the grant money and alcohol and so on. But the numbers show that it is actually quite small.”

“When you have very little money each month, you have to budget. So I would wager that poor people are better at budgeting than some who are better off,” she added.

And whilst criticism has been leveled over the miniscule amount of the grants being issued, Ferreira was doubtful as to the possibility of any significant increases.

“The current amount allocated to grants is sort of making the best of what is available and what is practical for both government and recipients,” she said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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