The government may consider increasing the means test threshold for the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant again to allow more people to qualify.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu made the revelation during a media briefing in Pretoria on Monday (10 October).
R350 SRD means test could be increased
Zulu recalled that the government has already taken measures to increase the number of applicants for the R350 SRD grant. These include simplifying the application criteria and increasing the means test threshold from R350 per person per month to the food poverty level, which is R624 per person per month.
Consequently, the number of applications increased to over 12 million in August. Between April and August, only those who had an income of less than R350 per month qualified for the grant. The R624 threshold allowed anyone earning less than R624 per month to qualify, leading to more applications being approved by SASSA.
“These amendments received the concurrence of the Minister of Finance. We may have to consider a further adjustment to the threshold to enable more applicants to qualify for the benefit,” Zulu said.
“Today, we can announce that nearly 7.5 million people are receiving the benefit on a monthly basis. As we are approaching the levels of support and coverage that we committed to, namely 10.5 million people, we also need to be cautious not to over-commit government to levels of funding that are beyond the allocated budget.”
Incorrect bank details delaying SRD payments
The Minister also said some beneficiaries have experienced SRD payment delays because they provided incorrect bank details. She urged approved applicants who have not yet been paid to check their bank verification status and correct their banking details if need be.
“Applicants of the COVID-19 SRD [grant] are encouraged not to change their bank details frequently because every change requires that the new account be verified,” Zulu however cautioned.
“Once your bank details are loaded or updated, please wait for a response from your bank before changing your details.”
The Minister apologised to the grant’s beneficiaries for the challenges they experienced earlier this year following the end of the COVID-19 national state of disaster. This necessitated a change from the Disaster Management Act to the Social Assistance Act, causing application and payment delays.
“We regret the pain and hardships that these challenges occasioned for many of you for whom this intervention is the difference between, on the one hand, hunger and indignity, and on another, leading a dignified life,” she said.
Zulu added that the government is implementing economic growth interventions to create jobs, which will ultimately reduce dependence on grants.