AIDC Analytical Paper: The Budget, Social Security and the Basic Income Grant Alternative Synopsis

The introduction of a universal cash transfer, a Basic Income Grant, has been hotly contested as a policy option to address vulnerability and social and economic and political exclusion of working age people and their households in South Africa for over ten years. In this paper we being with a review of current spending on social assistance in South Africa. We then provide an overview of levels of unemployment, inequalities and poverty in South Africa in 2014. We also review the policy options that have found favour to address these challenges within government seemingly rather than a BIG. We suggest that this binary is a false one and that an array of options should be explored given the urgency of the challenge. Before we conclude with a calculation of the possible cost of a BIG, we consider possible constitutional findings of a policy challenge about the failure of the state to provide social security to poor working age people, and a synopsis of arguments that have been raised both in favour of, and against, a BIG.
We conclude by calling for the roll out of a pilot of BIG in South Africa by government in partnership with other social partners as a demonstration of their commitment to finding empirically- driven, rather than ideologically – driven, policy options.