Grants are a ‘pittance’

Jamie Petersen

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in his Budget speech that overall expenditure on social assistance will increase from R129 billion this year to R165 billion in 2018/2019. Mr Gordhan said foster care grants will increase from R860 to R890 and the child support grant from R330 to R350.

Commenting on this, Elsie du Plessis, founder of Miracle Kidz Safe House in Constantia, said the increases don’t really make a difference and they’ll have to work harder at fundraising,

“It is R30 per month more – if you think about it, it’s a R1 per day increase. For us as a non-profit organisation, it means that we have to work harder at fundraising” she said.

Miracle Kidz provides a safe place for abused, abandoned and neglected children. They also provide clothing, food and medical attention if needed.

“Food, clothes, toiletries and so on get more expensive, and with only R1 per day increase it becomes very difficult for us to provide for all the needs of the children” she said.

Often the children who come to Miracle Kidz are not in prime health, Ms Du Plessis said.

“We don’t receive ‘healthy’ children, the children are often malnourished or sick and need special care. That costs money,” she said.

Although the increase won’t make a significant difference, Ms Du Plessis said they won’t let anything stand in their way.

“If you have a passion to provide a better life for kids, you won’t let the foster grant stand in your way. We shall keep on doing what we are doing, and keep on praying that things will improve in the future,” she said.

Mr Gordhan also announced an increase in the old age, disability and care dependency grants, which will rise by R80 to R1 500 in April.

Lorraine Howson, manager of Sunnyside Lodge, home for the frail and aged in Plumstead said that overall the budget was what the country needed.

“On the whole I think the budget speech was very good as the country needed stringent, strategic planning for survival. But unfortunately there are casualties along the way, and that includes the unemployed, and sadly our elderly folk “ she said.

Ms Howson said, the grant they’ve been receiving also wasn’t enough.

“The elderly are not only negatively impacted by the budget speech this year, but every year, as the social grant they receive is but a pittance of R1 440. Who today can live on that? For that amount there is no decent accommodation. And what about food, electricity and medical expenses which increase all the time,” she said.

Ms Howson said many of the elderly are suffering at home because their families can’t afford to give them the care they need.

“The saddest of all for the elderly, especially those in need of frail care, is that it is beyond their means and many are suffering at home, as their families are unable to financially support them,” she said.

“Sadly too, donations have decreased and more focus is placed on the children which is right as they are our future, but then we should not forget about our parents who gave us what we have.”