Covid-19 R350 special grant far too little for impoverished, Black Sash says

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A Sassa office in Cape Town.
A Sassa office in Cape Town.
Jenni Evans
  • The Black Sash says the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant is not enough to help keep the very poor healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic.  
  • It recommends that it be aligned with the Upper-Bound Poverty Line of R1 268, or at the very least, adjusted to the Food Poverty Line of R585.  
  • The NGO said President Cyril Ramaphosa's extension also leaves out adult women who are unemployed, and have to make do with only their children's child support grant.  

Black Sash says the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant is woefully inadequate to help prevent hunger and poverty. 

It recommends that it be aligned with the upper-bound poverty line of R1 268 or, at the very least, adjusted to the food poverty line of R585 in the interim.  

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a three month extension during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday. 

According to the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), the total amount spent on this grant to date is R16 billion for 6.5 million grants out of 9.6 million applications between May 2020 and January 2021.

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Black Sash said there is no way the very poor will be able to stay healthy on R350 a month, while the vaccine roll-out delay pushes economic recovery even further away, amid high unemployment at 30.8%.  

"Close to 10 million people applied for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant and about three million people were rejected," a statement read. 

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"We also know that over seven million recipients benefited from the Caregiver Grant - a grant government terminated in October 2020. These figures illustrate how pervasive poverty and unemployment is." 

The grant was introduced last April for people who are unemployed, but not yet receiving any social grant or support from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

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It also urges the government to extend the grant to the end of 2020/2021 financial year, after which Basic Income Support for those aged 18 to 59 years with no to little income must be made permanent.  

"President Ramaphosa’s address was silent on the government's long term plans for the implementation of Basic Income Support. This is deeply concerning given that the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment is structural in nature and that full employment remains a myth." 

In a statement, Sassa said applicants already receiving the SRD do not need to reapply. 

Application

It advised that SRD Grant processes are done online and amendments on an application can also be made online. 

Clients who have been paid through the SA Post Office should get bank accounts, and upload those details on the system.

Every application will be validated monthly and if approved will be paid. All applications will be considered monthly.

Clients whose applications for the Special 350 Covid-19 SRD Grant were declined, can lodge an appeal for review on the Sassa Covid-19 portal, and those who appealed having the grant declined do not need to re-appeal.

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