Child support grants mean survival for many

Without the government’s child support grant many South Africans would be living in dire poverty, according to a study released last week by the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg.

The study showed that 82% of Doornkop, Soweto, residents who receive the grant felt it improved the quality of their lives, while the rest said it made no difference to them because — at R260 a month per child — the amount is too small.

The grant is intended to be supplementary support for food security, says Professor Leila Patel, director of the centre. In communities such as Doornkop, where only 13% of residents have regular jobs and 24% rely on piece jobs or on the informal sector, the grant can make all the difference.

Patel believes that uninformed opinions of the grant — that it is abused, that teenagers fall pregnant to access the grant or that people who depend on the grant become lazy and don’t aspire to find work — are misconceptions.

The study shows there is no evidence to support these beliefs. Primary education is free, but in Doornkop homes with children of school-going age the grant money assists with other school-related costs, such as books, uniforms and public transport. “We have to ask whether these accusations are based on observation or popular belief in the media,” says Patel.

The research also shows that a large percentage of fathers who do not live with their children don’t pay maintenance because of the grant. Women who declare an income from maintenance of R2 500 or more a month do not qualify for the child support grant.

Patel believes the maintenance system continues to fail children. “We need to work with men to change their attitudes about responsible fathering.” According to social policy analyst Karen Peters, the grant reached approximately 10-million children in 2009. There are approximately 1.4-million eligible caregivers who are not claiming it. In the 2008/2009 budget the government paid out a total of R22.3-billion in grants.

Thandiwe Zulu, provincial director of the Black Sash, attributes the figures to delays at the department of home affairs and irregularities in official documents.

The child support grant assists in alleviating poverty but Patel believes it is not the only solution. “The grant needs to work with other sectors, such as health, education and transport. Some people might think that the grant is unsustainable because it is costing the government millions, [but in the long term] poverty is unsustainable.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Ayanda Sitole
Ayanda Sitole
Ayanda Sitole works from Johannesburg South Africa. Writer. Photographer. Proudly SA Ayanda Sitole has over 684 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders