Pretoria: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has welcomed the social grant increases announced today by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Delivering his 2014 Budget Speech in Parliament, Minister Gordhan announced that with effect from April, the old age, care dependency and disability grants will increase by R80 to R1 350 a month. The child support grant will also go up by an average of 6.8% from R300 to R310 a month, with a further increase of R10 at midyear to R320.
The increase of social grant values is in line with inflation forecast at 6.2% in the 2014/15 financial year.
Commenting after the budget speech, Minister Dlamini said the provision of social assistance was a constitutional imperative and the main purpose is to combat poverty, especially among the poor and the most vulnerable members of society.
“The increase in the value of social grants is a step in the right direction, especially in these hard economic times occasioned by the high cost of food, petrol and other basic necessities, and we welcome this move by the Minister of Finance.
“Social grants are one of the most effective means of alleviating child and adult poverty amongst the vulnerable, who would have otherwise been subjected to extreme poverty for the rest of their lives.
“That is why we are working hard to improve the social grant system and to eliminate all barriers for those who are eligible,” Minister Dlamini said.
Earlier today, Minister Dlamini met with representatives of Black Sash to discuss the unauthorised and unlawful deductions of social grants. The meeting follows the open letter Black Sash wrote to Minister Dlamini and several ministers and public entities regarding the matter.
During the meeting, the minister and Black Sash agreed to establish a joint team that will look into the issues raised. One of the immediate measures that the team will look into is recourse for social grant beneficiaries, who have lost their monies through unlawful and unauthorised deductions.
Minister Dlamini said the new biometric-based payment solution has brought many benefits for South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and government as a whole. However, it has also brought many unforeseen challenges that have opened a window of opportunity for unscrupulous businesses, including loan sharks who prey on the most vulnerable.
“As government, we are determined to work with Black Sash to protect social grant beneficiaries from all these unlawful and unauthorised deductions from the SASSA card,” said Minister Dlamini.
To demonstrate her commitment, the minister instructed SASSA officials to pay in full the old age grant of a pensioner from the North West, whose SASSA card has been unlawfully debited since November last year.
Minister Dlamini will also conduct unannounced and random frontline service delivery visits to social grant pay points throughout the country.
SOURCE: South African Official News