Sassa R350 Grant Set To Be Extended

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As unemployment continues to worsen in South Africa, calls for a Basic Income Grant (BIG) have grown louder over the past few months. 


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As unemployment continues to worsen in South Africa, calls for a Basic Income Grant (BIG) have grown louder over the past few months with many wanting the R350 grant to be extended.

The Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant was introduced at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to support unemployed individuals whose prospects of finding employment were decimated.

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) who distributes the SRD grant on behalf of the Department of Social Development commissioned a study to better understand the impact of the grant. The study revealed that 94% of SRD grant money was used to purchase food.

City Press reported that senior government officials have said an extension of the grant is a certainty, with the amount being the only factor that is being deliberated upon. The amount being discussed is R460.

If the grant amount is increased to R460, and if the number of people who benefit from the grant remain the same (9.5 million), it will cost the state more than R4.3 billion a month. This is an increase from the around R3.37 billion being spent on the grant per month.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) argued that the grant must not only be extended beyond March 2022 but the value of the grant must be increased to at least the food poverty line in South Africa. According to StatsSA, the food poverty line stands at R624 per person per month.

Currently around 9.5 million people are beneficiaries of the R350 grant. In March 2022, these 9.5 million people will be left without any social support when the current cycle of grant payments comes to an end.

Unlike other age groups, people between the ages of 18 and 59 receive no financial support in the form of grants. Children are able to benefit from the child support grant until their 18th birthday while people 60 and above will benefit from the old age grant.

Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, said information about the government social security net will be revealed in his Budget Speech which is expected to be delivered in February 2022.

The importance of support, whether it be through the extension of the SRD grant or the introduction of a BIG, cannot be understated.

Wits School of Governance economist and social security expert Alex van den Heever revealed that 70%-80% of South Africans live in dangerous and insecure conditions. He was presenting a report of the potential benefits of a BIS.

Van Den Heever said, “We therefore recommend that the existing COVID-SRD be institutionalised and form the platform for an expanded system of Basic Income Support, which can then be improved incrementally over time”.

The consequences of not extending the grant could be severe, says Van Den Heever. He explained that it could result in social exclusion which would be disabling and harmful to agency.

“Income support in the form of a BIG framework for adults is necessary and no alternative measures could reasonably address the widespread and urgent income support needs of the relevant adults,” said Van Den Heever.

Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said the report of the benefits of a basic income grant would be used as an integral part of policy engagement.

 

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