Finance minister Enoch Godongwana announced that social grants will increase by at least 5% in the next financial year during his National Budget for 2023 in Cape Town on Wednesday. However, disabled South Africans Health For Mzansi spoke to, believe that the grant is not enough and more needs to be done to assist them with their day-to-day challenges.
“R66 billion is allocated to social development over the medium term, with R36 billion to fund the extension of the Covid-19 social relief of distress [SRD] grant until 31 March 2024. R30 billion will be used for inflation-linked increases for other social grants,” Godongwana said.
‘Money is not enough, we need solutions’
Charlie Dyasi from the Free State is fully blind and lives with glaucoma. After hearing about Gondogwana’s budget, he said that the lack of employment prospects for disabled people is one of the most significant challenges that the community faces each year.
Dyasi said that he is aware of the current struggles in the nation, but that this does not excuse the lack of access to technology for the blind. He had hoped to hear what the minister would say about providing subsidies for the necessary software or gear for the disabled.
“Sad truth is that it is unfair how the country is treating disabled people, especially blind people,” he said.
‘Exhausted by empty promises’
Dyasi’s sentiments were shared by Cape Town disability advocate Nobathembu Peters, who said that the disabled community has been left to feel, unseen, unheard, and unacknowledged.
“Disability benefits are insufficient and will never be sufficient. The cost of living is high and living with a disability entails so many extra considerations.”
Meanwhile, Peterson Dhlamini, the president of Qhakaza Disability Organisation, said that “it’s unfortunate that the government lacked empathy for persons living with disabilities”.
He believes that persons with disabilities require access to a disability-friendly transportation system, employment possibilities, civic engagement, and the opportunity to take on leadership roles in their communities and in government.
The minister explained that in the medium term, social development is expected to receive some R1.1 trillion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for “social grants and welfare services, and to strengthen advocacy for the empowerment of women, youth and people living with disabilities”.
The child care and old age grants continue to receive the largest proportion of the government’s spending with the state anticipating growth in beneficiaries over the next three years.
“The child support grant and old age grant together account for about 70% of total grant expenditure over the MTEF period. These two grants will be provided to a total of 17.5 million beneficiaries in 2023/24. Social grants will increase in line with inflation over the medium term.
“Excluding the Covid-19 social relief of distress grant, social grant coverage is expected to increase from about 18.6 million beneficiaries in March 2023 to 19.6 million beneficiaries by March 2026,” the minister said.
The increases to social grants are as follows:
- The old age grant will go up from R1 985 to R2 085.
- The old age grants for those over the age of 75 will increase to R2 105.
- Grants for war veterans increase from R2 005 to R2 105.
- Disability grants go up to R2 085.
- The foster care grant increases by 5.1% to R1 125.
- Care dependency grants rise from R1 985 to R2 085.
- Child support grants go up by 5.2% to R505.
- Grant-in-aid rises to R505 – up by 5.2%
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