Calls For Basic Income Grant Continue

With SASSA introducing the Special Relief of Distress Grant which saw beneficiaries receive R350 per month, further calls have come for a basic income grant to be introduced outside of the R350 grant and to continue after the pandemic.

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Since last year, many calls for a basic income grant have come and not much has been said by Government since. With the existing R350 grant, this then gave an indication that a basic income grant would benefit citizens greatly.

Reasons behind these calls are that this grant would help reduce poverty and hunger in the country and soften the blows of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Neil Coleman, Co-director of the Institute for Economic Justice, said:

... we've seen now with the Covid crisis, it's been essential to extend the Covid R350 grant to stop people literally falling into starvation but these are emergency measures and they don't reflect the ongoing reality of our society.

The Institute believes that all South Africans should have social security and this grant would be a step towards that.

Coleman explains, "The adult population doesn't really have access to social security apart from a small group. Our social security system only targets young people and pensioners and that missing middle of age 50 to 59 have fallen through the cracks."

The reasons behind the basic income grant come from factors which were there before the pandemic and shows "deep structural problems in society".

A basic income guarantee would ensure that every citizen, every South African, knew that they were entitled to a certain amount of income every month which would enable them to do a range of different things.

The Institute has said that a wealth tax and a social security tax could raise the funds generated. 

"When you live in a society as unequal as ours when the vast majority of people have very little and which is small grouping, the top 1%, commands such a big portion of the country's wealth, it's inevitable that there has to be a process of redistribution," explains Coleman.

Coleman therefore speaks about the process for how this can happen:

  1. Extend the Covid grant
  2. Introduce a universal basic income for all adults between the ages of 18 and 59
  3. Introduce wealth tax and then increase level of basic income grant

Basic income grants around the world have shown that it provides an opportunity for citizens to do different things such as job seeking, children going to school and better nutrition and health.

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