Basic Income Support will combat poverty, but won't create jobs - panel

The social development department, together with the International Labour Organisation and Joint SDG Fund, released an expert panel report on Basic Income Support.

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CAPE TOWN - A panel looking into the feasibility of Basic Income Support is of the view that the grant in South Africa will help combat poverty, but won't do much to create jobs.

The social development department, together with the International Labour Organisation and Joint SDG Fund, released an expert panel report on Basic Income Support on Monday.

Professor Murray Leibbrandt at the School of Economics at UCT said COVID-19 restimulated the discussion that has been going on for many years.

"COVID of course stimulated and renewed this discussion and made us acutely aware of the need to come in and support South Africans to be active citizens in their own society; to be active participants in their own labour market," Leibbrandt said.

But he also said the R350 a month COVID relief grants have had an impact.

"Our citizens used it in all sorts of amazing ways so that all served as context for the panel to work with, which was really sort of a sweat exercise rather than a grandstanding exercise. It really was trying to work out if we can anchor this broader discussion about the Basic Income Grant, about supporting any sort of programme," he said.

Leibbrandt said going forward recommendations were made.

"We made a recommendation to ensure that COVID social relief of distress grant (SRD) is retained in the budget for 2022. At the moment it runs on the Disaster Management Act," said Leibbrandt.

He added the panel's work is now completed and has been handed over to the minister of finance.

"This was a policy exercise to give to the Ministry [of Finance] to feed back into government discussions. The minister of finance in the medium-term budget statement said that the policy discussions that could inform whether or not the SRD was retained depend on broader economic policy in government."