The PayTheGrants Campaign, against the termination of the Covid SRD grant, previously held a protest outside the Bellville, SASSA Offices. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.
The PayTheGrants Campaign, against the termination of the Covid SRD grant, previously held a protest outside the Bellville, SASSA Offices. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Reintroduction of SRD grant offers renewed hope to those struggling financially

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jul 27, 2021

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Cape Town - The reintroduction of the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, by President Cyril Ramaphosa, was welcomed across the board, especially as child support beneficiaries will also qualify.

The monthly payment of the R350 Covid-19 SRD grant will run until the end of March 2022. The grant was terminated at the end of April 2021.

“We are expanding the number of people who are eligible for this grant, by allowing unemployed caregivers, who currently receive a Child Support Grant, to apply. Details on the reinstatement of the grant, including the process for application, will be announced shortly,” said Ramaphosa, during his address to the nation on Sunday evening.

Civil society and action groups welcomed the reinstatement of the relief grant, as well as the widening of the criteria for eligibility. Previously, those receiving any other social grant did not qualify to receive the SRD grant.

Human Rights advocacy organisation Black Sash welcomed the decision to reinstate the grant and the expansion of the grants eligibility to include unemployed caregivers, who receive the Child Support Grant (CSG) on behalf of children.

“Given the country’s structural unemployment crisis, the Black Sash has repeatedly said that job creation programmes must be complemented with income support measures and a more comprehensive social security programme. It is concerning though that the grant was not increased to at least the Food Poverty Line, which is currently R585 per month,” said Black Sash communications and media manager Esley Philander.

Black Sash called on the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to ensure more effective implementation of the SRD grant, by urgently addressing administrative inefficiencies.

“Sassa must improve the grant’s application systems, appeals, and payment processes, with quicker turnaround times, and develop a more effective communication strategy, with applicants and beneficiaries,” said Philander.

Stellenbosch University Associate Professor of Economics Nic Spaull said, according to rough calculations, as many as three to four million more women with children will receive the SRD grant, as a result of the announcement.

"The other really big piece of news is that caregivers, who receive the Child Support Grant of R440 per month on behalf of a child, are now eligible for the R350 SRD grant if they are unemployed.

Spaull added: “Previously, they were ineligible because they already held a government grant. This had the effect of essentially discriminating against women who were receiving a grant on behalf of their children.”

Because of that, up until now, women only received about 35% of the SRD grants in the country, despite more women losing jobs than men," said Spaull.

UCT researcher in the Development Policy Research Unit, in the School of Economics, Tim Köhler said: “Additionally, both application for and receipt of the grant has been pro-poor, and we’ve estimated that, in the absence of the grant, poverty among the poorest households would’ve been 5% higher and household income inequality 1-6% higher, depending on the measure.”

C19 People’s Coalition #PayTheGrants campaign member Natasha Vally said the inclusion of caregivers, and the longer implementation of the grant, are important potential steps towards a Basic Income Grant (BIG).

Some of the previous and continuous demands made through the #PayTheGrants campaign is for the extension and increase of the SRD grant to at least the food poverty line; reassess the “unduly harsh and narrow” criteria for assessing the grant; to institute retrospective pay for recipients in the event that the grant is not immediately extended; and clear and urgent steps to progress towards the BIG, for those aged 18-59.

“As #PayTheGrants, we maintain our demands, especially the clear and urgent steps towards a BIG,” said Vally.

Distinguished Professor In the department of Public Law at UCT Sandra Liebenberg said: “A universal BIG makes a lot of sense in a country like South Africa, with high levels of structural unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“Communities could also be supported to pool their grants and start co-operative projects that would generate income, and promote sustainable livelihoods in South Africa.

“In this way, it could complement and support employment generation and economic activity in South Africa.”

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