2023 Budget Speech Media Statement.

Black Sash anticipated to hear the following from Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana’s budget speech:

  • An increase to ALL social grants aligned with the inflation rate.
  • An increased and permanent SRD Grant for the unemployed aged 18-59
  • The Child Support Grant increased to the Food Poverty Line (FPL) of R663.00
  • A well administered and transparent grant payment system by Post Bank
  • The minister spoke to none of the demands. The budget failed to speak to the majority in South Africa who are unemployed and hungry.

Minister Godongwana delivered the following regarding Social Grants:

  • R36 billion will fund the extension of the COVID-19 social relief grant until 31 March 2024.
  • The Old Age and Disability Grant increase by R90 in April 2023 and a further R10 in October 2023. The result is a total increase to R2090.00.
  • The Child Support Grant increased by a mere R30 from R480 to R500 from April 2023 and to R510 in October 2023.
  • The Foster Care grant increases from R1070 to R1130 in October 2023
  • In summary this is what the 2023 Budget Speech means:

The SRD Grant still has an expiration date of 31 March 2024. When will The SRD grant become a permanent Universal Basic Income Grant?

The number of people in South Africa applying for the SRD grant vs the number of people approved is highly concerning. It shows the grant is inaccessible, it could be due to the fact the application process is online, a digital divide or other exclusionary factors in the system.

In 2022 there were 10.5 million people approved for the SRD grant and in 2023 a decreased number of 7.8 million. In 2023 R36 billion has been allocated to the extension of the SRD Grant, a 25% decrease from the previously allocated 44 billion, meaning less people accessing the grant.

There was no mention of increasing the SRD grant amid high inflation rates. The Food Poverty Line is currently at R663, how then are unemployed people receiving The SRD Grant meant to live on a monthly R350. It is not even enough to buy a loaf of bread a day.

The minimal increases to The Child Support Grant and Foster Care Grant are shocking and fail to address the lived reality and struggles faced by caregivers for children.

An Anti-Poor Budget Speech:

  • The President referred to a targeted basic income grant in SONA, but the Minister of Finance failed to speak on how and when mechanisms for this kind of support will be implemented. Does this mean that the President was making empty promises?
  • We are dismayed that the budget for The SRD grant is reduced by R8 billion which means that less unemployed will receive the grant. The Minister fails to respond to the fact that the unemployed in the country cannot access the grant.

The 2023 budget speech predictably focused on South Africa’s electricity crisis and bailing out SOE’s of massive debt. It didn’t speak to any of the impoverished and marginalized communities in South Africa and the reality is these communities are the majority. Youth unemployment, rising food prices and inaccessible social grants are a recipe for economic instability.

We are very disappointed that the budget fails to consider the poor and most vulnerable.