SRD Grant Rules Need To Be Reviewed



While the government recently gave the SRD grant a bit of a bump, many are saying it's not enough to make real ends meet. Instead, they're calling for changes to be made to the system, arguing it needs to do more to help South Africans struggling financially.



Close to ten million South Africans are breathing a little easier thanks to the SRD grant, says the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). But some social advocacy groups believe the system can be adjusted to deliver on its intended goals more effectively.

In February, the Department of Social Development (DSD) unveiled a series of proposed changes to the regulations governing the SRD grant. These revisions aim to streamline the SRD grant's administration and distribution, ensuring efficient delivery to qualified recipients amidst ongoing economic difficulties.

The proposed amendments also address concerns regarding improper allocation of funds. This includes empowering the agency to recover Sassa grant payments made to ineligible individuals or those who received the grant through irregular means.

Additionally, the revisions aim to tackle the issue of unclaimed benefits by allowing the reclamation of funds from beneficiaries who fail to update their personal and banking information within a designated timeframe which is 90 days.

The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), in conjunction with the advocacy group #PayTheGrants, has expressed concern that the new eligibility requirements outlined in the government's proposed SRD grant regulations could exacerbate the problem of unintended exclusions.

They argue that the government's focus on minimizing instances where ineligible individuals receive the grant disregards its legal obligation to address situations where qualified recipients are denied the benefit.

The proposed amendments to the regulations relating to the SRD grant must be read in this context. The insertion of additional criteria in the regulations raises the significant risk of further exclusion error.

The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) contends that the SRD grant is plagued by significant issues, particularly a high number of exclusions that they believe stem directly from insufficient budgetary resources allocated to the program. This, according to the IEJ, constitutes a violation of the constitutional obligation to progressively realize the right to social assistance.

Government agencies have conceded that they prioritise the reduction of inclusion errors over the reduction of exclusion errors. This approach directly leads to a higher rate of exclusion and undermines the constitutional obligation of the government to progressively realise the right to social assistance.

The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) further raised concerns regarding the revisions proposed to regulation 6A, which governs the recovery of funds from individuals who received the SRD grant irregularly. The IEJ identified a lack of clarity within the amendments, expressing anxieties about their potential retroactive application and the possibility of unfair mechanisms for reclaiming funds.

The provision to cancel payments after 90 days if applicants are deemed untraceable or fail to update details places an undue burden on beneficiaries affected by administrative inefficiencies. We oppose its insertion in the regulations.

The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) additionally criticized the proposal placing the responsibility on SRD grant applicants to guarantee the accuracy of their contact information. The IEJ argues that this approach fails to consider the existing systemic barriers to communication and the challenges of digital exclusion faced by those most reliant on the grant.

Sassa SRD Grant Increase

In February, the Department of Social Development (DSD) proposed amendments to Regulation 5 of the SRD grant program. These amendments initially maintained the grant amount at R350 per month. However, the Finance Minister recently announced an increase to R370, representing a 5.7% rise.

The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) expressed that a more substantial increase was necessary to address inflation and effectively alleviate poverty. They argued that the lack of adjustment in the grant value contradicted the government's constitutional obligation to progressively improve social assistance initiatives.

Although the government has implemented a recent increase in the grant amount, stakeholders have stressed the significance of more substantial adjustments. These adjustments should account for sufficient increases, compensation for past losses, alignment with other social grants and benchmarking against poverty lines.

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