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Little cheer for elderly, disabled and kids
23 Feb 2012
Thamsanqa Magubane and sapa

THE elderly, disabled and children who qualify for grants had little to cheer about yesterday, according to social commentators.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in his Budget Speech that from April:

• the child support grant almost 11 million people receive would increase by R15 to R280 a month;

• foster care grants would increase by R30, to R770;

• monthly state old age pension and the disability and care dependency grants will rise by R60 a month, to R1 200, or R1 220 for pensioners over the age of 75.

Hillary Mumford, executive director of the Pietermaritzburg and District Council for the Care Of the Aged said any increased would be welcomed.

She said the differential increase had shown that the state was aware that the frail needed more care.

“In the case of child grants we have always said it was not enough for someone to live independently off it.

“The social grants for the elderly are also not enough, as one of the last organisations that looks after the frail on social grants we sustain huge losses every year.”

Julie Todd, director of the Pietermaritzburg Child and Welfare Society said the amounts were pitiful.

“With regard to the child grants, the amount is pitiful,” she said.

“As the cost of living has gone up, and there is high unemployment the money cannot sustain the child.”

Todd said the foster care grant was also not enough, but it had improved.

She said the amount would be adequate to encourage people to foster younger children.

She called for parity of the two amounts: the R280 for the child grant and the R770 for the foster care grant.

“How can we take a child from its mother because she cannot look after it and give it to someone else and then pay them three times the amount?”

A foster care mother who declined to be named said the grant was not enough, saying in her case it did not even cover the school fees.

“I have often questioned whether the grant system is working, I think they should just hand out food parcels instead,” she said.

Gordhan said the National Treasury was “mindful” that these increases could be reassessed if inflation continued

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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