University of Cape Town: Children’s Institute urges Parliament to increase Child Support Grant by R10

The Children’s Institute, based at the University of Cape Town (UCT), has written to Parliament, asking for the Child Support Grant to be increased by a “meagre” R10 in October to mitigate food price hikes and offer some protection against child hunger and malnutrition.

The Children’s Institute has asked Parliament to increase the Child Support Grant (CSG) by a “meagre” R10 in October to mitigate food price hikes and offer some protection against child hunger and malnutrition.

According to Katharine Hall of the Children’s Institute, at the moment the value of the grant buys even less in 2021 than it did in 2020. “As it is, the CSG is too small to cover the cost of minimum basic nutrition for a child,” said Hall.

The CSG, which is the smallest of all the grants, is currently at R460 after being increased from R450 in April 2021. Many believe that the grant should at the very least be aligned with the national food poverty line, which was R585 in 2020. Even this should have been increased to at least R600 this year, said Hall.

She said that while a R10 increase is not enough, it would be immediately feasible and “essential to offer some protection against child hunger and malnutrition”. The Child Support Grant is also usually increased by R10 in April and October each year.

According to the Treasury’s 2021 Estimates of National Expenditure, there will be a decrease in spending on social grants amounting to R36 billion over the next three years, despite an estimated increase of 300,000 grant beneficiaries per year. The budget document states that the decrease follows the “cessation of social assistance due to the Covid-19 pandemic” but assured that “R22.5 billion was expected to be transferred to SASSA over the medium term”.

In its submission to the Standing Committee on Appropriations, the Children’s Institute asked Parliament to ensure that the National Treasury allocates an additional R1 billion for the grant.

“It is untenable that the poorest and most vulnerable children should have to foot the bill for budget reallocations by making grant sacrifices, especially when South Africa is also battling an ongoing epidemic of child malnutrition,” Children’s Institute said in its submission.

Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations, Sfiso Buthelezi, said that low economic growth, debt, and the impact of Covid-19 has necessitated budget cuts across all departments. He said that the committee welcomed the call to increase the Child Support Grant. Buthelezi said that the Committee has urged the Department of Social Development to prioritise the CSG despite the constraints of its budget cuts.

Buthelezi added that the Committee would engage with the National Treasury “to find lasting solutions around the funding of children, and orphans in particular”.

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