The South African government was quick to impose a lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown deprived millions of South Africans of their livelihoods, rapidly deepening the country’s existing crises of unemployment, poverty and hunger. The government quickly announced temporary reforms of unemployment insurance – assisting businesses and workers in formal employment – but was slow to announce palliative measures to assist the poor or people whose informal livelihoods had collapsed under lockdown.

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Pensioners can again look forward to an inflation-linked increase in their social grants this year.

The government spending on social grants will increase to R567 billion.

The number of beneficiaries who receive social assistance from the state is expected to increase from 17.9 million to 18.6 million over the next three years.

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Financialising poverty: Social grants and financial inclusion in South Africa