Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement of an extension of the Social Relief of Distress grant has been welcomed but it has also raised concerns about why other caregiver grants were not extended beyond the end of October.
Ramaphosa initially introduced Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant of R350 meant for unemployed people at the beginning of the national lockdown.
This relief was also accompanied by an increase of other grants including the elderly grant and the child grant with caregivers being recipients.
However, these grants’ additional top-up comes to an end at the end of October, but only the SRD grants will be extended. Child support beneficiaries received an additional R500 between June and October and other grant beneficiaries were topped-up with R250.
This has raised the alarm of civil society organisations who had earlier last week, before Ramaphosa’s address to Parliament, called for an extension of Covid-19 linked grants and for them to be increased.
The concerns linger around the impact that a none extension for caregiver grants will have on women – who find themselves as caregivers but also unemployed.
If a caregiver is a recipient of a social grant, they are unable to apply for the SRD grant which leaves many women being disenfranchised according to civil society organisations.
The Covid-19 People’s Coalition, which is a group of civil society organisations which include Black Sash and the Institute for Economic Justice, criticised Ramaphosa’s lack of concrete focus on social grants as part of his address.
The group has called a lack of extension on caregiver grants as a slap in the face and a punishment to women. The organisation believes Covid-19 grants helped cushion the blow of the economic impact of Covid-19 as many people were left jobless.
“Caregivers are excluded from receiving the SRD grant so women are not only expected to take care of children but they are punished for it. This is a testament that, despite the government’s rhetoric in support of women, actual policy is abandoning the most precarious of women and children,” the coalition said.
“If the government is to align its rhetoric to action that would seriously assist in supporting women, then the Caregiver Grant must be extended and increased immediately," it said.