'Basic income grant is necessary'

Human rights organisation Black Sash has welcomed the social grants increases that took effect this month, but wants government to "seriously" consider basic income grants as well. "The recent interest rate hike, fuel price increase, and rise in inflation rates over and above the alarming increase in the cost of basic foods, has had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our society," said the organisation.

Black Sash said even though the increases were not big "any additional amount of money is welcomed by poor households". The pensioners and disability grant will increase by R80 to R1 350 a month. The Foster Care Grant goes up by R30 to R830 and the child support is up R10 to R310. "The sad reality, however, is that this assistance is only provided to children, the disabled and older people," said Black Sash.

According to the organisation, the unemployed also needed social grants because they too experience extreme poverty. "In the absence of a comprehensive employment strategy that seriously addresses the problem of structural unemployment, the Black Sash believes government should give serious consideration to a basic income grant," they added. "We believe the most practical way to improve food security for children, the elderly and disabled is to provide regular income to the millions of adults who simply cannot find work to support their families. "A cash endowment would represent a lifeline to the many hundreds of thousands of people who would depend on it for their basic nutritional needs."

But not everyone agrees with Black Sash. "No, don't give them money. No one will go looking for a job. All of them will stay at home," said unemployed Kebawetse Choeu. Elliot, from Orange Farm, said he agreed with most of the grants except the basic income grant, especially for young people. "They will become lazy and stop going to school because they know the government will give them money." The sad reality, however, is that this assistance is only provided to children, the disabled and older people Black Sash statement