Grants to elderly supporting entire households

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File: The elderly wait in a queue to get their social grant payments processed at the South African Social Security Agency on June 2009 in Mdantsane.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s elderly are bearing the brunt of the country’s unemployment problem‚ with more than half of all the country’s old people living in households where everyone is unemployed.

EXPLAINER: How social grants work

This and other data is contained in a Stats SA survey of South Africans aged 60 and older.

It showed:

•Elderly people live in conditions that are slightly better than in 2011 due to the widespread roll-out of grants‚ with more having access to housing and water;

•About 3.1million people over 60 receive pensions of R1500; and

•The elderly feel less safe walking alone at night‚ with only 31% of people over 60 feeling safe walking at night, which is down from 38% measured in 2011.

Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said yesterday the elderly were doing better economically due to the availability of grants.

But he said the grants were usually used to support whole households‚ leaving the elderly in a “precarious situation”.

The grants get absorbed by the able-bodied as more than half of all old people are living in households where everyone is unemployed.

“When they are supposed to be enjoying their old age‚ they are worrying about their children and they have to worry about their grandchildren.

“We have a serious [unemployment] problem and we don’t have an answer. The grants have to a large extent cushioned a severe problem‚” Lehohla said.

READ: All systems go for social grant payments: Dept of Social Development

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