BIG- Still a means to bridging the inequality gap? 05 September 2019

On 5 September, CPLO hosted a roundtable on the Basic Income Grant which explored whether a universal grant/basic income grant is still a viable means to bridging the poverty gap. The roundtable discussion led by Isobel Frye of the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute, and Dominic Brown of Alternative Information and Development Centre used the BIG Financing Reference Group’s 2004 report, which concluded that a basic income grant was affordable, as a starting point. Both speakers argued that although 14 years after the report, South Africa can still afford a universal grant. According to Mr Brown the potential benefits of a universal/basic income grant that is paid unconditionally (meaning no means testing) to individuals (and not households) can include improved child health and nutrition; improved capacity for children to cope in school; greater financial independence of women; reduced income inequality; reduced poverty; increased productivity and an increased demand for consumer goods which can create conditions for job creation and economic growth.  Mr Brown further argued that a universal/basic income grant of R200 for unemployed 18 to 59 year olds would reduce South Africa’s head count from 33.5% to 29.6%.