‘Old age grant increase an insult’

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Budget Speech SA 2014 ~1.JPG

AP

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan delivers delivers the 2014 Budget Speech in Cape Town.

Cape Town - All we want is to save a little, said an elderly Kensington couple before Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget speech yesterday.

Edna and Martin Williams live sparingly, are crippled by arthritis and rely on monthly grants to get by.

Social grants for the elderly have gone up by R80, from R1 270 to R1 350 a month.

The Williamses each receive an extra R20 on this amount because they are over 75.

Edna, 77, said the increase was somewhere between good news and bad.

“It’s not actually positive, but it’ll have to do. There’s such a lot of holes it can cover, but there are always more holes than money.”

Food is her biggest expense, then electricity at R200 a week, life insurance payments, the phone bill, and rates at just over R100 a month.

She also pays dearly for medicine to ease the pain of the arthritis that has confined her to a wheelchair and threatens to do the same to her husband.

“Once we’ve dealt with expenses there’s hardly anything left,” Edna said.

“You can never save.”

By the first of every month there is a long list of items they have run out of money for.

But as soon as the grant arrives in their account, it has to be paid out.

First, Edna gives money to the church.

Then she pays into their insurance policies, settles household accounts, and sets aside money to pay for her medication.

Whatever is left goes towards food.

Her son searches through newspapers to find specials and shops around for the best deals.

Every Saturday, Martin, who struggles to stand due to arthritis, cooks up a stew or curry with vegetables and some braaied chicken – their food for the week, with bread and milk.

Edna said the pension increases never kept up with escalating food prices: “When it comes to a push you have to ask the children for help, but you don’t want to be a nuisance. They have their own families.”

The increase for this year was hardly the R200 extra that would have put Edna’s mind at ease, but it was better than the poor increases of previous years, she said.

“It’s an insult, that type of money. If they gave us a decent income, we could try put some aside, and have something to fall back on.” - Cape Argus


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