R350 in support of the family also disqualifies the poor in SA from SRD grants

Senior grant recipients living in Alexandra Township, north of Johannesburg, got up as early as 05:00 on Monday morning to receive monthly social grant payments. (Sesona Ngqakamba)

  • The Department of Social Development told Parliament it only budgeted 10.5 million beneficiaries for the Social Relief of Distress grant.
  • However, the department is aware that as many as 13.6 million people are classified as economically inactive and 18.3 million live below the poverty line.
  • The department worked out a new definition of income in the regulations to include all forms of income, “even family support”.

The Department of Social Development says anyone who receives R350 as financial support from a family member will be excluded from the Social Distress Relief (SRD) grant this time, as it aims to target the poorest of the poor.

The department, which informed lawmakers on Friday, said it was obliged to introduce “a means test” for the grant as they feared their Rand 44 billion budget would not be enough to reach everyone who should have applied. . The budget can deliver a monthly R350 to 10.5 million people through the end of March next year.

However, data from the department showed that 13.4 million people in South Africa had no income and 18.3 million people were below the food poverty line.

The R350 SRD grant introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was extended from March 2023 to February by President Cyril Ramaphosa. It was introduced to help indigenous and unemployed people cope with the economic impact of the national Covid-19 blockade.

A communication from the department and the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) states that in order to implement the new test of the means still under development, a new definition of income has been prepared in the legislation to include all forms of income, “including support by family members “.

“There is a significant risk of implementation as it has not been done on a large scale before. The threshold for the previous iteration was set at the unemployed, which was tested against the databases listed above, and at the food poverty threshold if people filed an appeal.

“The new iteration will test everyone against a predetermined threshold. Given the limited budget, for the new iteration this will be set at R350, equivalent to the grant value. However, it will be re-examined if the 10.5 million target is not. reached up .”

READ | The test of means for the R350 grant could be revised, says the department of social development

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said that as “inadequate” the R350 grant may face rising spending, the grant’s popularity has shown that it has helped many ailing families.

“These regulations applicable to the third iteration of the grant come at a difficult time. The duty to preserve these funds and aspects of the regulations needed to be strengthened in protecting against fraud and ensuring that they go to those for whom they are intended,” the minister said. of Lindiwe Zulu social development.

The written brief stated that the previous iteration of the grant ended in March 2022 with 10.9 million applicants approved and approximately 1 million appeals still to be evaluated.

“The department will then provide the grant to fewer people in the third iteration than it did in the second iteration.”

READ | Under the new rules, fewer people will qualify for the R350 grant

Bank on it

The written request states that once the consent of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana was obtained, Sassa entered into an interim agreement with some banks to start the income testing process.

“The interim agreements with Absa, Standard Bank, Tyme bank and Nedbank have been finalized, with Grindrod and FNB still pending. The media testing process for the historical period from August to November 2021 began on May 16, 2022, with all response files from banks received except for Grindrod bank.

“The plan expects to initiate payments for approved reconsideration applications from June 7, 2022. Evaluations and payments for the historical period from December 2021 to March 2022 will resume after the completion of the April and May payments,” the communication reads.

Postal pains

The request states that the post office of SA (SAPO) has struggled to provide services at its branches and cash points. However, Sassa customers could still access their money through the National Payment System (NPS) or bank ATMs.

The claim states that 95% of customers use NPS, 4% use post office branches and only 1% use cash payment points.

“In the second iteration, SAPO implemented a digital card system that will alleviate much of the challenges faced by Sassa branches by allowing beneficiaries more options – through merchants – to access their grants. This will continue for all SRD Covid payments. 19 addressed for payment by Postbank in the third iteration, “the statement reads.

Sassa’s delegation told MPs on Friday that while the SRD grant continues, beneficiaries would have to provide a formal update through available outlets that would still need the grant every three months.

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