The Price of the Grant: The social cost of child support grants for female caregivers and their extended networks
Working Paper Number: 412
Author: Rosemary Blake
Despite being a welcome, and necessary, form of poverty alleviation, there is a powerful moral discourse surrounding social grants in South Africa, which renders recipients vulnerable in particular ways. In both the public and private realm, discussion of social grants – particularly, the Child Support Grant (CSG) – usually include injunctions about who should receive grants and how grant money should be spent. This is interesting considering that one of the major motivations given in support of social welfare cash transfer schemes is that they are intended to “provide caregivers with choice in how best to meet their children’s changing needs” (Delany et al 2016: 25) In this paper, I draw on 12 months of fieldwork conducted in a township located in the Cape Winelands to demonstrate some of the dangers of the moralising discourses that surround the Child Support Grant. I consider how these discourses affect those who access grants and how these are linked to at least two profound disjunctures between the ways in which Child Support Grants are conceptualised by policy planners and the everyday realities of those who rely on them.