Black Sash urges government to up R350 unemployment grant to R1,000

23 April 2020 - 11:00 By Ernest Mabuza
The Black Sash has called on the government to increase the temporary Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350 to unemployed South Africans to at least R1,000.
The Black Sash has called on the government to increase the temporary Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350 to unemployed South Africans to at least R1,000.
Image: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius

While the temporary Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350 to unemployed South Africans is welcome, government should increase this amount to at least R1,000, human rights organisation The Black Sash said.

The Black Sash made this comment in reaction to social relief measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday to alleviate the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on individuals and households.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on April 21 2020 that the South African government will make an additional R500bn available to assist in the fight against Covid-19. The money will come from reprioritising the country’s current budget and from international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the New Development Bank (NDB). Here’s where the government will spend the money.

The organisation said the measures, which include a R250 increase of all grants and a R500 increase of the child support grant (CSG) for six months, were a step in the right direction.

“These top-ups will ensure that more than 18-million beneficiaries are not plunged into starvation and they will act as a buffer against the economic effects of the lockdown and pandemic,” the organisation said.

It said the rollout of the temporary Covid-19 social relief of distress grant was a significant new intervention. It said this adult grant should include parents who are unemployed, regardless of whether they are already receiving the child support grant.

“The Black Sash urges the government to increase the amount of the grant from R350 to at least R1,000. The current amount of R350 is significantly less than the value of the food parcel distributed by the South African Social Security Agency, which ranges from R1,000 to R1,200,” it said.

The Black Sash said the roll out of the temporary Covid-19 grant was the first step to a permanent basic income grant for those aged 18-59 years with little or no income.

“Our government is slowly moving towards the progressive realisation of social security.”

Many South Africans depend on feeding schemes like the African Children's Feeding Scheme (ACFS) based in Soweto, Johannesburg. The scheme, which has been around for 75 years, provides families with access to nutrition, health and education. The Covid-19 outbreak has however left the organisation with an uncertain future as some of their programmes have been discontinued due to safety concerns.


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