Why The Child Support Grant Still Not Enough

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Millions of mothers rely on the Child Support Grant from Sassa to cover essential costs while raising their children. However, research indicates that the grant value is not enough. 

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The average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet in South Africa has seen a sharp rise which has worsened the financial struggles of many families relying on the Child Support Grant (CSG). This is according to the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD). 

In April 2024, the PMBEJD estimated that it cost R959.38 per month to provide a child with a nutritious diet, reflecting an increase of R17.49 (1.9%) over the past month and R67.24 (7.5%) year-on-year, according to its latest Household Affordability Index.

Despite these rising costs, the annual increase in the CSG, which came into effect in April, offers little relief. 

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) began paying beneficiaries of the CSG  R20 more in April, bringing the monthly amount from R510 to R530 per child. 

The PMJD says that over the past four years, cumulative increases have totalled just R80. In comparison, the cost of feeding a child a nutritious diet has risen by R207.61 during the same period, from R751.77 in April 2021 to R959.38 in April 2024.

In April the annual Child Support Grant increase came into effect, this year the increase is R20, taking the CSG from R510 to R530 per child per month. The annual increases on the Child Support Grant are arbitrary having no relation to projected inflation for the year, nor the cost of raising a child. 

They say this disparity demonstrates the inadequacy of the CSG. Currently, the grant is 30% below the Food Poverty Line of R760 and 45% below the average cost to feed a child a nutritious diet. 

Despite this, many mothers expressed gratitude for the R20 increase, highlighting the desperate conditions and low expectations placed on state support according to the group.

The gratitude mothers expressed for the extra R20 brought tears to our eyes…Knowing that our expectations of the state are just so low, our situations are so desperate, and mothers carry our future generation with shoulders whose strength defies all logic.

While the CSG is acknowledged as a critical intervention in South Africa and is praised for its effective targeting and utilisation experts argue that its current level is insufficient for raising a healthy and happy child in a stable home. 

R530 a month is not enough for a mother to ensure her child can make the most of her education and other opportunities as she grows up

The PMBEJD believes that Increasing the CSG could have far-reaching positive impacts, including improvements in equity, economic growth, employment, education, nutrition, and health. 

Our plea has been to prioritise child nutrition as a political decision. Healthy children whose bodies and minds are properly developed immediately provide stability across all spheres of society and the economy, transforming South Africa's trajectory towards a future that fully harnesses the boundless positive possibilities our modern world provides.

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