Basic income grant needed

Blue letter

Lynette Maart, national director, Black Sash

We recently commemorated Human Rights Day and are acutely aware that the democratic constitutional state has lost ground in the fight against unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Proposals for a basic income grant is almost 20 years in the making, following the 2002 Taylor Committee’s report. Since then, unemployment levels have worsened considerably, further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stats SA’s most recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey revealed that over 11 million people are unemployed, using the extended definition. During 2020 alone over 1.4 million jobs were lost due to the pandemic.

The Black Sash supports Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu’s call for the implementation of a basic income grant, made during a mini-plenary debate in the National Assembly on Friday March 12. There is overwhelming support, across political and ideological lines, for a basic income grant now. The Black Sash supports the request for the Finance Minister to find the necessary resources to finance a basic income grant for those aged 18 to 59 years with no to little income.

The Black Sash urges the Department of Social Development to finalise the necessary policy and implementation instruments as well as the budget, approved by the relevant decision makers within the 2021/22 financial year, to ensure phased-in implementation by April 1 2022.

In the interim, the government must extend the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant until such time that the basic income grant is in place, and its value must be increased to at least the Food Poverty Line (currently at R585). Adults, who receive the child support grant on behalf of children, must also qualify for this grant. Ultimately, the value must match the Upper-Bound Poverty Line (currently at R1 268) for its maximum benefits to be realised. There can be no further delay with implementation.

The Black Sash launched a petition in partnership with Amandla.mobi calling on those living in South Africa to support our Basic Income Support Campaign for those aged 18 to 59 years with no to little income. We encourage people to sign and share the petition.