Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced an extension of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, also known as the R350 grant, for an additional 12 months. This move is set to provide continued support to millions of vulnerable South Africans who have come to rely on this crucial financial support.
The R350 grant, named after the amount of money provided to its beneficiaries, has served as a vital social support mechanism for millions of unemployed people in South Africa.
Currently, between 7 million and 8 million individuals receive SRD grant payments on a monthly basis.
The government's decision to extend the grant's implementation comes as a response to the ongoing economic challenges faced by many citizens. Minister Godongwana emphasised that the 12-month extension would come at a considerable cost, estimated to exceed R30 billion.
The total allocation for the extension is set at R34 billion, highlighting the government's promise to assist vulnerable citizens whilst controlling their spending.
The announcement was made during the presentation of the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament. The primary focus of the statement is to ensure fiscal responsibility and control government spending while continuing to provide support to the most vulnerable individuals in South Africa.
Despite the crucial role the SRD grant has played in providing relief to millions, it is important to note the implementation of the grant will now end in 2025 and not 2024 as previously expected.
Over the medium term, a provisional allocation is retained while a comprehensive review of the entire social grant system is finalised. The 2023 Budget indicated that the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant was only funded until March 2024.
It remains uncertain whether the government will extend the program beyond that point with fiscal constraints pose a significant challenge.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa underscored the positive impact of the SRD grant, is the grant provided much-needed support to unemployed individuals and has prevented millions from falling into extreme poverty.
The 12-month extension announced by Finance Minister Godongwana represents a significant commitment to providing relief to those in need during these trying times.