The other day, I was reading an article on News24 about how a R1050 social grant keeps a family going from month to month.  The response to the story has proven that South Africans are generous at heart, and that if we’re able to help someone in need, we will.

For those of you have missed it, the first in this series talks about the in-depth struggles and challenges an impoverished family faces. Can you imagine trying to survive on R1050 per month?

We can’t. In fact, we can barely even imagine surviving on a minimum wage salary, so not having enough money to buy the basics, well, it’s unconscionable.

Despite our government’s promises to look after the poor, we don’t see much evidence of that, because surely, by now, government grants would have increased? And what is going to happen following Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan’s speech (if you’ve missed it, Fin24 has a special hub dedicated to everything relating to the 2017 Budget)?

Here’s a brief outline of the most important aspects of the budgets that will affect you.

Bridging the fiscal gap

According to Fin24, low economic growth has been a major concern, and in his speech, Pravin has noted that because of this, R28 billion will be raised from taxes. As it stands, our government is currently in debt of R2.2 trillion and in an effort to stabilise our economy, radical transformation is required.

Taxes

It’s been speculated that those who earn more will be taxed more, and Gordhan has confirmed this by introducing a tax bracket of 45 % on those who earn more than R1. 5 million per year.

We imagine that many politicians and big businessmen are not too happy about that, but this move certainly seems to show that Gordhan is committed to at least alleviating some of the strain on lower-income earning citizens.

Drinkers and smokers will also not be too happy to hear that you’ll have to fork out some extra cash. The sin taxes sees an increase in the prices of  cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and alcohol.

Can’t go a day without that ciggie? According to Fin24, you’ll be paying R1.06 more for cigarettes, while those who enjoy a glass or two of red wine will cost you 26c more per bottle (do note that if you’re buying sparkling wine, it will be 70c more).

We can’t really see that breaking the bank.

There are also further consolidations currently in place regarding the tax on sugary beverages, so be aware that price hikes will be more than likely to occur in the near future.

For a more detailed overview on  the budget in a nutshell, visit Fin24.com

Education

Pravin has announced that R37 billion will be allotted to higher education, which is an additional R5 billion in comparison to last year.

Ewn adds that, in addition to this, poor students who’ve applied for loans to from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, will also be supported. So, some slight relief for those who want to study but are struggling financially.

Given the #Feesmustfall movement, it is clear that we’ve still got a ways to go before affordable or free education becomes viable, but considering that government has pledged to invest this amount in higher education, as well as the R320 billion that’s been set aside for basic education, it’s a step in the right direction.

Social grants

Given the story that recently featured on News24, I couldn’t help but hope for a more substantial increase for those who rely on government grants. As it is, the amount did increase, but not by much.

AS it stands, old age and disability grants have increased by R90, while foster care and child support have increased by R30 and R20 respectively.

So, definitely not enough for a family trying to make ends meet on a grant of R1050, but it seems unlikely that any adjustments would be made. Unfortunately is just not prosperous enough to carry the elderly and the poor, which is why education and job creation is so important.

Transport

Bad news for those who travel to and from work with your car: from April onwards, you can expect to fork out an extra 30c more per litre of fuel, according to Businesstech.co.za.

Best to save up or to change your mode of transport – as it stands petrol is currently in the range of R13.62 per litre already, so with it pushing the R14 mark, it’s definitely time to reconsider your travelling options if you’re looking to save. Using public transport is better for the environment anyway.

Housing

The biggest and most surprising news is that there will be some relief for those who are in the market for house-hunting.

It’s no secret that the rates of houses are beyond ridiculous (and from what we’ve seen, Cape Town’s prices are particularly vicious), and most of us simply cannot afford to rent, let alone buy.

However, Gordhan has announced that for houses under R900 000 there will be no transfer tax, which does offer some people a measure of relief.

Of course, in response to this, some cynical arguments I’ve seen on Twitter ask whether or not there are houses that actually fall in this price range!

Nonetheless, according to the positive responses we’ve seen to this so far, proves that Gordhan is actually listening. Which is a lot more than we can say for most politicians.