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If the noisy suburban echo chamber repeats something often enough, it does not become a fact. According to a middle-class urban legend, SA’s spending on social grants has increased astronomically since 1994. It is now too high and unaffordable. But the facts tell a different story.

According to the 1996 Budget Review, social grants paid by welfare departments were equivalent to 2.4% of GDP. On May 31 1995 there were 2.9-million beneficiaries of social grants. The social assistance budget was spent on grants for the elderly (60%), the disabled (24%) and maintenance grants (14%). Racial parity in awards to the elderly and to disabled people was achieved by the end of September 1993, and in July 1995 the value of these grants was R410 a month for all population groups...

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