Why The Basic Income Grant Would Benefit South Africans

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With the R350 grant expected to end in March 2024, calls for the implementation of a Basic Income Support grant have intensified. Several civil society groups have urged government to prioritise making this grant permanent.


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South Africa’s unemployment rate currently stands at 32,9%, with an even more concerning youth unemployment rate of 63,9% for those aged 15-24 and 42,1% for those aged 25-34 years. 

Over the past three years the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant has been a lifeline for more than eight million jobless South Africans and their families each month. These monthly grant payments from Sassa have enabled individuals to provide their most basic needs and services. 

The grant was initially implemented during the pandemic as a measure to provide temporary financial relief to those who were unemployed. However, since its inception it has sparked numerous conversations and debates regarding a more permanent solution for unemployed South Africans.

Analysis and researchers have expressed that a basic income grant would go a long way to providing essential social protection to people, as it would address the country’s extremely high rates of poverty and ensure that all people have an adequate standard of living.

Calls For Permanent Basic Income Grant

On Tuesday, Human rights advocacy group, the Black Sash Trust handed over a memorandum and petition to the Minister of the Department of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, ahead of her 2023/2024 financial year budget vote.

The petition includes more than 330,000 signatures from individuals across the country.

In the memorandum the group called for the immediate implementation of a Basic Income Support and the “fulfilment of the constitutional obligation to provide social assistance to those who are unable to provide for themselves between the ages of 18 and 59.”

The group urged government to prioritize all people living in poverty by implementing a permanent basic income grant, a social grant of R663 which is aligned with the food poverty line must be the first urgent step.

Food and petrol prices are constantly increasing, and the cost of living is a struggle for many living in South Africa. The current unemployment rate is 32,9 % and we are still reeling from the aftermath of the pandemic – government needs to act with urgency.

Furthermore, black sash also called for the social assistance framework to be extended, so that it includes the unemployed.

They added, “The current challenges faced by beneficiaries to access their grants must be prioritized so that those who depend on social grants to survive receive their grants efficiently.”

DSD Makes Progress With Grant Implementation

Tabling her budget vote, Minister Zulu affirmed that one of the department's main priorities for the 2023/24 financial year is the country’s poverty alleviation strategy, which includes the policy on the basic income support.

She noted, “Working together with other government departments, we will produce South Africa’s poverty alleviation strategy which includes the policy on the basic income support for 18–59-year-old people who are not working.”

Zulu also believes that aside from providing financial assistance to vulnerable individuals, the implementation of the grant could also encourage economic growth.

Although there has not yet been any communication regarding the formal launch date of the grant or an official grant amount, the department has noted that work is currently underway to ensure that there is financial support to help vulnerable individuals.

 

Suggested Article:

Minister speaking on Basic Income Grant

The Department of Social Development says progress is being made on the implementation of the highly anticipated Basic Income Grant. The social grant will provide financial relief to millions of deserving South Africans seeking government assistance. 


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