Nelson Mandela Bay Metro plans to ease burden on economically hit families

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has put forward a proposal which will help more families in need of assistance due to the rise in unemployment during the Covid-19 pandemic
TRYING TIMES: The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has put forward a proposal which will help more families in need of assistance due to the rise in unemployment during the Covid-19 pandemic
Image: WERNER HILLS

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality wants child maintenance and disability grants excluded from the list of household income in order for more recipients to qualify for the assistance to the poor programme (ATTP).

The city subsidises 63,406 houses for the ATTP programme through the budget and treasury committee to ease the burden on more indigent homes.

This, councillors said, was because of the fallout from Covid-19 which had led to unemployment increasing as people lost their jobs.

Unemployment in the metro is at 39.2%.

This means should council approve the proposal, more indigent residents will be able to enjoy subsidised services from the metro.

Successful applicants qualify for free 75kWh electricity, 8kl water, sewerage, refuse and property rates.

The existing policy excludes the following grants:

  • Foster child;
  • Care dependency;
  • Child support; 
  • Ward committee stipend.

The budget and treasury committee wants council to approve excluding disability, court-ordered child maintenance and grant-in-aid from the combined household income.

In his report, Bay CFO Selwyn Thys wrote that disability grants and grant-in-aid received by the South African social welfare system were in place to improve the standards of living of vulnerable and poor communities and therefore were in need of state support.

“These grants are not a contribution to the household’s income, but are issued by government to assist in achieving human development goals, including improving education and health outcomes,” he wrote.

Thys said child maintenance was intended for the child’s education, health and food.

In a statement, municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron said more struggling Bay residents would be able to qualify for free basic services.

He said this would help open the door for many more battling families to apply for the free monthly allocation of water, electricity, services and rebates.

“These important recommendations will now be tabled at the mayoral committee and ultimately at the municipal council for final approval or ratification,” Baron said.

Budget and treasury political boss Dr Malcolm Figg said the amendment represented an additional ray of hope for economically stressed families who were largely dependent on grants for survival.

“Our ATTP policy excluded residents whose household income is more than two state old-age pensions, now amounting to R3,780, with the foster child grant, care dependency grant, child support grant and ward committee stipends excluded,” he said.

“This means if residents received those grants in addition to the two state pensions, they still qualified.

“Though we registered and aided more than 60,000 indigent residents every month, the existing policy still excluded a portion desperately in need of assistance.

“In the prevailing trying economic climate, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, I am happy that we can proffer an olive branch to help those most deserving of a helping hand during difficult times.”

During Wednesday’s committee meeting, councillors welcomed the move, with ANC member Rory Riordan saying a lot of families now needed support from the municipality due to loss of income as a result of Covid-19.

Applicants for the ATTP programme should be the owners of the home. If not, they needed to provide the relevant documentation.

The programme is valid for three years and properties worth less than R2m qualify.

Eastern Cape Sassa spokesperson Luzuko Qina said there were 673 disability grant recipients and 238 grant-in-aid beneficiaries in the Bay.

“We do not pay maintenance grant; that belongs to the justice department,” Qina said.

“However, if you meant foster child grant the number is 173, while care dependency grant, which is a disability grant for children, is 112.”

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