More South Africans could qualify for the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant if a new proposal published by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu is approved.
In a gazette notice published on Thursday (7 July), Zulu indicated her intention to amend the income threshold for insufficient means from the current R350 to R624.
Food poverty line
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the government set the threshold at R595, which was the food poverty level at the time, for the SRD grant. This meant that anyone with a monthly income of less than R595 qualified for the grant.
However, when the government ended the state of disaster in April this year, it reduced the threshold to R350. Civil society groups criticised the decision, saying it locked out many people who previously qualified and benefitted.
In her gazette notice, Zulu invited interested persons or organisations to make comments on the proposed amendment. The deadline for submitting comments is 29 July 2022.
The notice also adds another amendment that states: “The Minister may from time to time, with the concurrence of Minister for Finance, amend the income threshold by notice in the gazette.”
R624 per person per month is the new food poverty line in South Africa as determined by Statistics South Africa in September 2021. This will increase the government’s expenditure on the SRD grant, but it is not yet clear by how much.
Zulu’s proposal comes two weeks after a group of civil society organisations, led by Black Sash and the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), took the government to court over the reduced threshold.
“We are challenging the arbitrary means test of R350, which deprives millions of people in need of government assistance and regresses developments of the right to social assistance for hundreds of thousands who qualified for this assistance previously,” they said in a statement last month.
“To put that in perspective, the food poverty line in South Africa is R624 per month – that’s how much money is needed per person per month to stop you from starving. According to the government, 18.3 million people live below this line. There can be no justification for only 10.5 million people receiving the SRD grant.”
How to submit your comment
You can submit your comment on Zulu’s proposal via the following ways:
- Post: The Department of Social Development, Private Bag X901, Pretoria 0001.
- Hand: The Department of Social Development, Chief Directorate: Social Assistance, 164 Totius Street, Harlequins Office Park, Groenkloof, PRETORIA 0001.
- Email: SAREGS@dsd.gov.za