The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has again thrown its support behind the introduction of a new basic income grant in South Africa.
The country’s largest trade federation was presenting its resolutions following its central executive committee meeting on Thursday (26 May). It added that the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant, introduced by the government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, should form the basis of this new basic income grant.
The grant is currently provided to more than 10 million unemployed recipients across South Afria.
“We feel that it is affordable at a cost of R44 billion out of a budget of R1.8 trillion. What is not affordable is to leave 10 million unemployed persons with no source of income. The grant recipients must be linked to skills training programmes to help them find jobs.
“We cannot sustain a ratio of 14 million employed persons supporting 30 million social grant recipients and unemployed persons. The R350 SRD Grant must be extended beyond 2022, increased to the food poverty line, and used as a foundation for a basic income grant.”
South Africa’s food poverty line in 2022 is currently set at R624.
Almost half of all South Africans now rely on some financial support from the government, says the Department of Social Development. In a presentation to parliament at the beginning of May, the department said that about 31% of the South African population relies on social grants – which include everything from disability to childcare.
However, there are approximately 10 million beneficiaries who depend on the monthly R350 special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant alone.
This increases the number of South Africans who rely on social transfers to about 47%, it said.
Data from Bloomberg and Old Mutual shows that the country currently has twice as many welfare beneficiaries as registered taxpayers. The government is now considering the feasibility of introducing a basic income grant in South Africa which is expected to widen the social safety net further.