/ 18 February 2008

Black Sash urges Manuel to make good on child grant

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel should make good on expectations of a higher age limit for the child support grant, the Black Sash said on Monday.

Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya told a media briefing last week that the grant would be extended to the age of 18 and the means test recalculated.

He said he would not elaborate as he did not want to steal Manuel’s budget speech thunder.

The Black Sash said in a statement it had been calling for years for the extension of the grant, which was currently cut off at the age of 14.

”We have argued that young teenagers are particularly vulnerable as they enter adolescence, and that the … grant would help many of these youngsters complete their schooling and go on to provide for themselves in our skills-driven economy.”

It was disappointed at President Thabo Mbeki’s failure to make the announcement in his State of the Nation address.

”As it stands, vulnerable children born at the dawn of our democracy will, from this year, be left to fend for themselves as they will no longer be eligible for the R200 monthly grant,” the NGO said.

”The Black Sash believes that we cannot afford not to extend the grant. It is an investment with significant returns for all of us.”

The Black Sash also said it was clear that the government’s approach to tackling poverty was inadequate.

It hoped Mbeki’s announcement of a ”War Room” to fight poverty meant Manuel would be ready to release major funds for a comprehensive, sustainable strategy against poverty. – Sapa