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Grant increase welcomed, but not enough: Black Sash

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Social justice advocacy group Black Sash has welcomed a R10 mid-year increase on social grants by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), but has warned that the additional funds will do little alleviant the strain on beneficiaries. The increase is set to benefit roughly 16.4 million grant recipients from the 1st October onwards.

3.2 million elderly South Africans currently receive grants amounting to R1340 a month, while 12 million people receive a meagre R320 a month in terms of child support. Grants are also afforded to the disabled, war veterans and care dependants amongst others.

“It is a very large percentage of our population, 52 million people in South Africa that are living in poverty and are dependent on grants. So the R10 a month will affect different beneficiaries in different ways,” he said.

While the amount will seem minute to the majority of the country’s upper and middle class, Black Sash advocacy manager, Elroy Paulus said the purchasing power was likely to be even smaller for recipients in the larger scheme of things. With beneficiaries more than likely to spend their funds on basic necessities like transport, food and water, the current rate of increase was unlikely to correlate with increases in the average consumer price index.

Paulus stressed that whilst the amount was unlikely to meet the needs of most households, the funds were necessary to ease the pressure on recipients.

“I think that R10 today does buy a load of bread. The intervention from the state we wish could be more; as a percentage of the entire size of the economy it’s about 3.4%, and I think there is enough wealth in SA to increase that. But unfortunately that is a decision by the treasury, and they use economic factors to calculate that,” he said.

Paulus said these increases were dependant on two key points, namely the annual budget reveal in February, as well as the Medium Term Expenditure Framework in October of the same year. The latter would be a projection of the government’s budget over the next three years, and would determine whether funds were available for increases.

“Based on the growth rate, revenue and other factors including inflation rates, the treasury ultimately allocates how much more money is given to grant beneficiaries,” he noted.

He reiterated that while there was room for the grants to be increased more substantially, under the current economic circumstances they understood it would be difficult to achieve that. VOC

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