Covid19: Government has R300 million available for rental relief support

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Government housing in Langa, Cape Town. (Getty)
Government housing in Langa, Cape Town. (Getty)
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  • R300 million has been made available for rental relief support during the nationwide lockdown.
  • Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Pam Tshwete said Covid-19 has disrupted budgets across all departments.
  • The provincial emergency grant was increased by R377 million to R 672 million.

The government has reallocated R300 million for rental relief support to social housing institutions during the national lockdown.

This was revealed by the Department of Human Settlements during a hybrid sitting of Parliament's portfolio committee on human settlements, water and sanitation on Wednesday.

The department also presented its adjusted budget for the 2020/21 financial year.

READ | SA facing double storm of Covid-19 and hunger

Deputy director-general Joseph Leshabane said a further R300 million has been reallocated in order to provide debt relief support to borrowers in the affordable rental housing sector, in the form of a grant to the National Housing Finance Corporation.

"We introduced two specific additions to our transfers to entities. We are introducing a R300 million allocation for affordable rental relief and a further R300 million for affordable rental relief for tenants who do not stay in social housing units. That is a work in progress, and we will come back to the committee once that framework is finalised," he said. 

Leshabane said more money has been allocated to emergency housing.

"What you will see, is the provincial emergency grant that has increased by R377 million to R672 million.

"Again, that is a very important adjustment because, for us, emergency housing under these circumstances has become quite central in the upgrading of informal settlements," he said.

Disruptions

Leshabane also added that consultations with the National Treasury are ongoing.

"On our timeline, we are on schedule to finalise our consultations, including Treasury, by the end of this month.

"I am saying so because we have to now go back and relook at all the relief measures that are now available to households, UIF and other issues.

"We then had to reconcile all of that to avoid a scenario of double dipping; that proved to be far more intense than we initially anticipated, but we have the proposal and the draft is on the table. There is still work we have to do," he said.

READ | Lockdown: Dlamini-Zuma asks SCA for leave to appeal high court ruling

MPs also raised concerns about the reduction of the Title Deed Restoration Grant by R377 million.

Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Pam Tshwete said Covid-19 has disrupted budgets across all departments.

"We have to do things differently going forward because of Covid-19," she said. "We are taking note of the fact that some budget cuts will have a negative impact on us.

"We understand fully that such cuts were necessitated by Covid-19 and we will do what we can with what we have. We spend what is given to us.

"We will monitor the municipalities and provinces, especially on the issue of title deeds. We know provinces don't always use this grant."

The committee also called on the department to speed up the upgrading of informal settlements.

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