New SRD Grant Regulations Slammed By Civil Organisation

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The extension of the Social Relief of Distress grant earlier this year required the amendment of regulations under which it is provided. Civil organisations argue the amendments made by the government do not address several challenges with the grant.


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Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant would be paid to those who need it until March 2024. While this came as a welcomed relief to the millions of unemployed individuals who rely on the SRD grant, civil society believes the government has failed to address several issues related to the grant. 

The Department of Social Development (DSD) was required to amend the regulations under which the SRD grant was provided after its implementation was extended by twelve months. The only amendment made by the department was to change the grant payment expiry date from the end of the 2023 financial year to the end of March 2024

The Universal Basic Income Coalition says the DSD failed to address several challenges which prevent vulnerable individuals from accessing the grant. The coalition is made up of Black Sash, the Children’s Institute at UCT, COSATU, Institute for Economic Justice, #PayTheGrants, Social Policy Initiative, Women on Farms and Youth Lab. 

A submission by the coalition was submitted in which they call for the grant amount to be increased from R350 to the food poverty line of R633. 

Additionally, the group wants the grant to be converted to a permanent Universal Basic Income Grant for people between the ages of 18 to 59 years old and for the amount received by beneficiaries to gradually increase to the value of the upper bound poverty line of R1,417. 

In failing to amend the grant amount, the means test, and mechanisms for application and verification of income, government has once again failed to take the opportunity to address many of the challenges which have plagued access to, and implementation of, the SRD since its inception

The coalition also wants the DSD to address several “exclusionary measures” that prevent many vulnerable individuals from accessing the grant. 

Applicants can apply for the grant on the SRD grant website. They must provide personal information which is used by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to determine their eligibility for the grant. Information provided by beneficiaries is verified using several government databases. 

Additionally, applicants are required to complete a questionnaire and not exceed the income threshold of R624. 

The coalition says the SRD grant website is only available in English which creates a barrier for individuals who do not have access to the internet and non-English speakers. They add that the DSD are placing limitations on beneficiary numbers by imposing a low-income threshold of R624. The DSD’s definition of income is also broad as it refers to any money in an applicant's bank account. 

They add that Sassa’s reliance on flawed government databases to verify eligibility and the use of back verification processes can lead to incorrect exclusion of beneficiaries.

The coalition warned that they could pursue legal action against the department if these exclusionary measures are not addressed.

 

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Sassa office branch

Millions of South Africans depend on social grants. These grants are paid lout monthly to qualifying beneficiaries, but the payment process is not always consistent. 

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