Report Finds Pension Grant Not Enough To Make Ends Meet

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report finds pension grant not enough to make ends meet

A recent report by the University of Cape Town has found that the older persons grant is not sufficient for beneficiaries to make ends meet.

Elena Moore and other researchers from the Family Caregiving programme , which focuses on the care of older people in southern Africa, interviewed 30 families in rural KwaZulu-Natal and 50 in the Western Cape to find out how pensioner-headed households make ends meet on their grant.

About 3.9 million people in South Africa are beneficiaries of the grant, which is currently at R2 080 per person a month. But pensioners say the amount is inadequate.

Almost two-thirds of black grant beneficiaries are living in a household of five or more people with the average household income being R5 729, according to the report.

As of July 2023, the Pietermaritzburg Social Justice and Dignity household affordability index indicated that the cost of a nutritious diet for a family of five was R4 459, not including the cost of electricity, transport or cleaning products.

The reports findings are that the average household monthly expenditure for people living on the grant is R2 438.

The discrepancy between what households are spending and what is deemed the basic cost of a nutritious diet for a family of five per month is concerning, said the report.

An 82-year-old woman living in Lawley, south of Johannesburg, told the Mail Guardian she has two grandchildren who she supports, leaving her with little to no money to buy medication.

According to Statistics South Africa data from 2021, most older people require chronic medication and access to healthcare facilities with 24% having diabetes, 68% living with hypertension and 14% with arthritis.

In a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal, the Family Caregiving researchers found that most households have about eight to nine members and are struggling to cover the cost of food, medicine and transport to clinics.

Large households were spending an average of R1 000 to R1 500 a month on food, the report said. A lack of electricity and difficulty in accessing water has created an additional burden for older people in rural areas.

But in urban areas such as Cape Town, there are greater chances of access to water and electricity, health facilities being close and households smaller. This means the older persons grant is not as constrained as rural area households.

Still, the researchers found that older people in urban areas are often required to carry their own household expenses.

An older couple receiving the grant in the North West, who declined to be named, told the Mail Guardian that although they do not have additional responsibilities, they still find it difficult to take care of their household expenses on their own.

The study found that because of inflation, many families are struggling to cope and opt for loans with high interest rates, which puts further pressure on older people.

The report recommends that the government invest more into the grants for older people so they can access basic care services such as the cost of transport to buy food; access Sassa pay points or offices and access the clinic.