MTBPS Must Reflect the Constitutional Obligation to Provide Social Assistance!

The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) must reflect government’s constitutional and international obligations to provide social assistance for those aged 18 to 59 years with little to no income. In periods of economic distress, social relief measures provide an important safety net, and the only lifeline, to poor individuals and households.

Prior to Covid-19, the economy failed dismally to create the number of dignified jobs promised by government. This trend is unlikely to be reversed significantly within the next year. International studies have shown that basic income support not only stimulates economic growth but also reduces poverty and inequality more effectively than any other poverty-targeting government programme.

Many of those who have little to no income will benefit from the extension of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant to 31 January 2021. But the crisis of structural unemployment, affecting over 12 million people, will not be resolved by January 2021 and will continue to impact mainly women, informal workers and those living in rural areas. The R350 Covid-19 SRD Grant is way below the Food Poverty Line, currently at R585, and is being further diminished by rising food prices and costs incurred to access the grant such as transport, cellphone and bank charges.

Government’s failure to extend and increase the R500 Covid-19 SRD Caregiver Grant means that women and children will bear the brunt of the current pandemic and its national economic consequences. Women constitute 98% of the over seven million on the Caregiver Grant. The Covid-19 lockdown, the lack of access to school food programmes and reduced income opportunities has placed further financial strain on households. Terminating the Caregiver Grant at the end of October 2020 will force women to care for their children and themselves with the meagre R450 Child Support Grant per month.

The Black Sash and community based partner organisations will picket outside Parliament on Wednesday 28 October from 10h00 to 12h00 prior to the MTBPS. We stand in solidarity with the millions of people, predominately women and children, who will suffer as a consequence of government’s continued failure to adequately prioritise human rights in the budget framework.

We reiterate our demands, that government:

  • Implements permanent social assistance for those aged 18 to 59, valued at the upper-bound poverty line, currently R1,268 per month. Caregivers who receive the Child Support Grant must also qualify for this grant;
  • Make the Covid-19 grant increases of R250 per month permanent for all social grants;
  • Ensures that the above provisions apply to refugees, permanent residents, asylum seekers and migrant workers with special permits; and
  • Works towards a universal basic income.

We encourage all who reside in South Africa to sign and share our petition calling for Basic Income Support for those aged #18-59 years NOW!


Black Sash: m