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South Africa’s Covid-19 relief grant inadequate – Advocacy groups call for urgent increase

Published by
WIlliam Dube

The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) have called for an increase in South Africa’s R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to a minimum of R413, in line with inflation. The grant is intended to help those most affected by the pandemic, but the value of the grant has been eroded by high inflation since its introduction in 2020.

  1. The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) are calling for an increase in South Africa’s R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to a minimum of R413, in line with inflation.
  2. The organizations have also recommended a plan to increase the grant progressively until it reaches the current food poverty line, as well as changes to the qualifying means test and bank verification process.
  3. The number of people approved for the SRD grant has dropped significantly since April 2022, and the IEJ and SERI are urging the government to take action to address the exclusion of people in need from the grant and to increase its value to a level that reflects inflation.

The organizations made a joint submission in early March on proposed amendments to SRD grant regulations issued in terms of the Social Assistance Act. They also called for a plan to increase the grant progressively until it reaches the current food poverty line.

The amendments, which were open for public comments between late February and 7 March, seek to extend the R350 SRD grant to March 2024. However, the IEJ and SERI have noted that the only aspect under review for amendment was the “expiry date” of the grant. They also expressed concern about the qualifying means test and bank verification process, which have led to very high levels of exclusion.

The IEJ and SERI recommended that the means test be raised to the upper bound food poverty line of R1,417. They also suggested that the government commit to updating the databases used for bank verification and that personal information provided by applicants should take precedence over bank verification.

The number of people approved for the SRD grant has plummeted since April 2022, when the new regulations were introduced. According to figures sent to GroundUp, just over 8.2 million of the 13.7 million people who applied for the grant in February 2023 were approved. This is due in part to restrictions imposed by the Department of Social Development, which stated that there was only budget for 10.5 million beneficiaries.

In response to the IEJ and SERI’s submission, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development acknowledged that the value of the SRD grant was low and that the grant’s purchasing power had diminished due to inflation. The department is also working on a proposal to introduce a basic income grant, which has been widely supported by civil society organizations.

The IEJ and SERI have urged the government to take action to address the exclusion of people in need from the grant and to increase the value of the grant to a level that reflects inflation. They argue that the budget allocation for the SRD should cover all those who rightfully qualify for the grant.

WIlliam Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on william@rateweb.co.za

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Published by
WIlliam Dube

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