While most social grants have been increased by about 6.3 percent nominally, the poor are impacted disproportionately by inflation, because they spend most of their income on food, and food inflation is currently at 16 percent, Elroy Paulus, the national advocacy manager for Black Sash, says.

It was announced in the Budget this week that both the state old age grant and the disability grant will increase by R95 a month, while the foster care grant and child support grants will increase by R30 and R25 a month, respectively, effective from April.

This means that a state pension and a disability grant will go up to R1600 a month, a foster care grant will increase to R920 a month, and a child care grant to R380 a month.

About 17 million people in South Africa are dependant on the government for a social grant. The Budget reflect that the government will spend R164.9 billion on social grants this year. This amount expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product is 3.1 percent.

Paulus says that many ​social grant recipients are also getting less because of the increase in the number of unlawful and disputed deductions for airtime, loans, and other dubious debits from their grants. This is owing to third parties deducting unauthorised moneys from the Grindrod-South African Social Security Agency-Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) bank account into which grants are paid, he says. “It is the type of bank account that facilitates these deductions. The Social Assistance Act explicitly states that a grant may not be transferred, ceded or encumbered in any way.”

CPS is the payment service provider which is at the centre of controversy relating to its invalid contract with the SASSA.


PAYING FOR YOUR SINS

Wednesday's Budget proposed the following increases in alcohol and tobacco duties:

  • Malt beer: 12c per 340ml can
  • Unfortified wine: 23c per 750ml bottle
  • Fortified wine: 26c per 750ml bottle
  • Sparkling wine: 70c per 750ml bottle
  • Ciders and alcoholic fruit beverages: 12c per 340ml bottle
  • Spirits: R4.43 per 750ml bottle
  • Cigarettes: R1.06 per packet of 20
  • Cigarette tobacco: R1.19 per 50g
  • Pipe tobacco: 40c per 25g
  • Cigars: R6.58 per 23g


TRAVELLING FOR WORK

The Budget Review proposes easing tax on travel expenses reimbursed by your employer. If you do not travel more than 12 000km a year (up from 8 000km) for business purposes, no tax is payable on what your employer reimburses you, up to the rate of R3.55 (up from R3.29) per kilometre, regardless of the value of the vehicle. This does not apply if other compensation in the form of an allowance is received from your employer in respect of the vehicle.

If you keep a log-book of business travel, the fixed depreciation cost, fuel and maintenance rates per kilometre used to determine your allowable deductions have increased roughly by the inflation rate.