Good news for low-income earners

Malusi Gigaba
Image: Esa Alexander

The Budget again prioritises low-income earners by providing above inflation increase to social grant recipients and introduces free tertiary education from this year.

If you receive an old-age grant or a disability or care dependency grant, you will receive R100 more this year, but the kicker is that the increase is phased in over course of the year.

Your current R1600 grant will be partially increased by R90 on April 1 and by another R10 on  October 1, bringing your total income to R1700 per month.

Caring for a child with a child support grant will be only very slightly easier as the grant increases from R380 to R400 on April 1 and by a further R10 to R410 on October 1, which is an overall increase of 6.6%.

Treasury says that spending on social protection will grow by 7.9% annually over the next three years in line with in government’s commitment to providing a safety net for low-income South Africans.

The number of social grant recipients is expected to reach 18.1 million by the end of 2020/21.

An estimated 12.8 million people will receive the child support grant and 3.7 million will receive the old-age grant.

Expenditure on grants is expected to reach R189.8-billion in 2020/21.

A highlight of this year’s Budget is the provision for fee-free higher education to students from poor and working-class families.

This will apply to all new first-year students at universities and Technical and Vocational Education Training Colleges in 2018, who will receive full funding for their studies in their first year.

The programme will be rolled out in subsequent years until all years of study are covered.

The criteria for receiving this funding is that the student’s families must earn less than R350000 a year.

In addition, students who are at university and part of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will have their loans for 2018 onwards converted to a bursary.

Deputy Minister of Finance Sifiso Buthelezi said that it was not easy to find funding for this expense – R57-billion – but that it was the duty of government to invest in future generations.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivered his annual budget speech in Parliament on February 21 2018. Here are the highlights.

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