Black Sash has written to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni over its unhappiness about the minimal increase in social grants
BLACK Sash has written to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni over its unhappiness about the minimal increase in social grants, saying it places the poor on the altar of “fiscal consolidation”.
The organisation says the minister’s recent Budget speech failed to address the escalating humanitarian crisis that currently threatens the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people.
Black Sash national director Lynette Maart said the minister barely spoke about the struggles of poorer households who were predominantly dependent on social assistance. She said his silence about the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on these households was disappointing.
“With high, runaway food prices and other ever-increasing living costs, people who are constitutionally eligible for and dependent on social assistance were waiting to hear that the government is indeed caring and responsive by announcing permanent basic income support for persons between the ages of 18 to 59. We are still waiting for the government’s progress report to this committee, regarding social assistance for the 18 to 59 year cohort with no to little income,” she said.
Maart said that the increase of R10 for the child support and foster care grants and R30 for the old age and disability grants was “pocket change”.
“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 pandemic. A third wave of infections is now seen as an inevitability. The Covid-19 vaccine roll-out has only just begun but there is no indication how long it will take to achieve herd immunity,” she said.
Daddy Mabe from #PayTheGrants said the little that had been given to the people was inadequate to live on. Mabe said that the government had the financial capacity, but that this was concentrated on 10% of the income earners, he said.
C19 People’s Coalition spokesperson Julia Eccles said full employment was unachievable and that there was a need for an urgent solution to secure dignity and boost the economy.
“We call on the government to implement a universal basic income grant so that our people can live decent and dignified lives. People are suffering, particularly women and caregivers who have been erased and ignored in the Covid-19 special grant.
“The only difference with the basic income grant and the current grant is that with the basic grant you don’t have to be unemployed. Right now we are in a depression that is escalating daily. Usually one thing that economists advise when in a depression is stimulus spending by injecting money into the system,” she said.