Social grants to be increased

Cape Town – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says social grants will be increased by up to R90 as government provides a safety security net for the poor.

The Minister said this when he announced a pro-poor budget at the National Assembly on Wednesday, while he announced a new tax bracket for those earning above R1.5 million.

“social assistance grants provide income support to the most vulnerable in our society. These will be increased in April to compensate for consumer price inflation,” he said.

Announcing the increases, the Minister said:

The old age grant will increase by R90 to R1600 for pensioners over the age of 60, and R1620 for those over 75;

The disability and care dependency grants also increase by R90 to R1600 a month;

Foster care grants increase by R30 to R920 a month;

The child support grant increases by R20 to R380 a month.

In its Budget Review, National Treasury said government aims to provide a social safety net for all South Africans – particularly the young, elderly and disabled – and to standardise social welfare practices as highlighted in the National Development Plan.

National Treasury said spending on this priority is set to rise from R164.9 billion in 2016/17 to R209.1 billion by 2019/20 – growing at an annual average of 8.2% over the medium term.

“Early childhood development services for children 0-4 years’ old have grown over the past five years, but only half of the 2.4 million children from poor households who should benefit are accessing the services.

“Government has allocated an additional R1.1 billion over the next three years for early childhood development.

“This will provide subsidies for 113 889 more children.”

National Treasury said, meanwhile, that the number of social grant beneficiaries is expected to reach 18.1 million by the end of 2019/20.

The child support grant will also reach an estimated 12.8 million beneficiaries and the state old age grant 3.6 million beneficiaries, National Treasury added.

“Due to increases in beneficiary numbers and inflationary adjustments to grant amounts, expenditure on grants is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 8.2% over the [next three years], reaching R175.6 billion in 2019/20.”

Free sanitary pads for school girls initiative commendable

The Minister said, meanwhile, that the work of the inter-departmental task team led by the Department of Women, which is coordinating government’s support for the provision of sanitary pads to indigent women, including learners and students, was commendable.

“The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education is piloting the rollout of sanitary pads at schools, and I hope we will see complementary initiatives in other provinces,” the Minister said.

Source: South African Government News Agency