There’s finally some good news for thousands of South Africans who missed out on the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant when the national state of disaster regulations ended in April.
On Tuesday (16 August), Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu gazetted an increase of the grant’s income threshold for insufficient means from R350 to R624 per person per month.
Income threshold for SRD grant raised to R624
The new amendments to the Social Assistance Act mean that anyone who has an income of less than R624 per month will qualify for the SRD grant. Between April and July, only those with a monthly income of less than R350 qualified.
The new regulations are deemed to have come into effect on 1 August 2022, which means that they will apply to applications for August 2022. The grant amount paid to each successful applicant remains R350 per month.
The amendments follow a period of public comment after Zulu signalled her intention to revise the income threshold in July following pressure from civil society groups.
The groups, led by Black Sash and the Institute for Economic Justice, had earlier criticised the government for reducing the insufficient means income threshold to R350, saying this locked out millions of people from benefitting.
“Cumulatively, between April and June, over 27 million fewer payments were made than would have been the case if the previous level of payment had been maintained. This is a national crisis,” they said in a statement in July.
The grant has benefitted more than 10 million people since its inception in April 2020. Given the financial implications of the latest amendments, Zulu indicated in her gazette notice that she had obtained Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s concurrence.
Meanwhile, Zulu told Parliament last week that the National Treasury has allocated additional funds for some grant recipients to gain employment.
“Currently, SASSA [the South African Social Security Agency] is in the process of establishing a data-sharing relationship with the Departments of Public Works and Infrastructure and Employment and Labour with the goal of assisting COVID-19 SRD recipients to gain access to employment opportunities,” the Minister explained.
“Furthermore, the department has finalised a framework on linking social protection beneficiaries to sustainable livelihoods initiatives, with the view to provide skills targeting the unemployed and those on the SRD database to enhance chances of employment.”
The SRD grant is set to end in March 2023 and discussions are underway in government on whether there will be an extension or introduction of a basic income grant.