Civil society organisations say they have become aware of the proposal circulating in the government in recent weeks but had largely assumed that it would be rejected. Picture Leon Lestrade/ African News Agency/ANA.
Civil society organisations say they have become aware of the proposal circulating in the government in recent weeks but had largely assumed that it would be rejected. Picture Leon Lestrade/ African News Agency/ANA.

Civil society organisations reject proposal to terminate SRD grant for a 'family grant'

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Nov 2, 2021

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Cape Town - Civil society organisations campaigning for the basic income grant have rejected what they said was an attempt to unilaterally and secretly push through a “woefully misguided” and “unfeasible” proposal by the national Treasury to replace the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) with a “family grant”.

The organisations say they have become aware of the proposal circulating in the government in recent weeks but had largely assumed that it would be rejected as it was “exclusionary, patriarchal, biased and unimplementable”.

A government document titled Draft Anti-Poverty Strategy (abridged version) and dated September 2021 said the grant would be paid to heads of households and would only be offered to 1 million households in the first year and it would be gradually increased each year by another 1 million households until the targeted beneficiaries are covered.

Once all households are part of the new family grant, a consolidation process would be undertaken with the child support grant, where households with children would receive a variable benefit based on the number of children in the household.

The document said the proposed grant would have a more meaningful impact on poverty than other grants.

Institute for Economic Justice senior policy specialist Neil Coleman said Treasury’s proposal that the grant should be targeted only at household heads and not household members was anti-poor.

He said it would radically reduce the number of beneficiaries, at a time when hunger, poverty and unemployment was worsening. He said the grant would have a devastating effect on women and children, cause multiple administrative inefficiencies and leave room for corruption.

Black Sash national advocacy manager Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker said the grant would deepen dependency of household members on the “head of the household”. She said it would also worsen gender power imbalances, and gender-based violence.

“Even if the grant is awarded to a female head, this deepens tension in the household as individual adults no longer receive the grant. The proposal does not directly account for household conditions or number of dependants – and will be skewed against women-headed households carrying heavier burdens.

“It is impossible to determine the number of dependants a household head is responsible for, so the grant is a horribly blunt instrument (unlike the grant to adult individuals),” she said.

The organisations said they would, among other things, consult with other organisations about the option of mobilising mass protest and seek legal advice on the constitutionality of the proposal if it was taken forward.

They said they would also intensify their campaign for the extension and improvement of the SRD grant and introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee.

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Cape Argus

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