R350 grant recipients call for govt to make it permanent: ‘It’s a lifeline’

The debate follows a range of longstanding discussions on income support for working-age people who are jobless and without any means of support.

FILE: The lengthy queue at the Maponya Mall Sassa office where some people have been waiting since the night before in order to get their social grants. Picture: Kgomotso Modise/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) have on Monday hosted a discussion on basic income support for the unemployed aged 18-59.

The debate follows a range of longstanding discussions on income support for working-age people who are jobless and without any means of support.

The department said in the current economic space of low growth and even negative growth in many countries exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for protecting those in the working-age group of the population had become a greater necessity.

It added that this was necessary because the impact of the pandemic would undoubtedly continue to be felt for a long time to come, especially by the poor.

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The calls for a basic income support have grown following the pandemic and the debate was aimed at presenting an opportunity to engage these calls based on scientific evidence.

Tshiamo Segoa is a grant recipient who's unemployed. The 24-year-old has a diploma in management services and said she viewed the R350 grant as a lifeline.

“What I have been able to do with my R350 grant is save and I have been able to create an emergency fund for my mother and myself. So, whenever she can’t buy something important, I dip into our savings and help her in any way that I can.”

The department's acting director general Linton Mchunu said the grant system had played an important role in reducing poverty.

“Our grant system significantly reduced poverty that is significantly higher than the average of upper middle-class countries. So, the grant system that we have has had a significant impact in the reduction of poverty. Take away the grant system, increase the level of poverty.”

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