President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed that the government is considering implementing a new “work seekers grant” in South Africa.
This grant would assist South Africans who are looking for jobs to travel to interviews and cover other job application costs, Ramaphosa said in a written parliamentary reply this week.
‘Work seekers grant’ in South Africa
The President was responding to a question by EFF MP Vuyani Pambo, who had asked, “What are the reasons that the Government has not considered a job-seeking allowance which will be given to unemployed graduates and young persons in general who are looking for work as the specified persons spend approximately R1,200 on data, printing and transport costs when they are looking for employment that they may not even get?”
In response, Ramaphosa said the government has considered various options to assist the unemployed “in addition to the many measures that are currently in place.”
“A basic package of support in the form of a work seekers grant that would assist the person to actively look for work and travel to interviews is being modelled by the National Treasury,” he added.
“The implementation of such an allowance or grant will depend on the availability of funding, taking into account government’s commitment on the R350 SRD grant that is currently being paid.”
The government introduced the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant in 2020 to assist the unemployed during the pandemic. It has since extended the grant several times, with the latest extension running until March 2024.
Ramaphosa did not however indicate how much the proposed work seekers grant would be. The EFF believes the amount should be at least R1,200 per person per month, but the government is likely to flag this as unaffordable.
Nevertheless, he noted that the Department of Employment and Labour and the National Pathway Management Network, which is established under the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, already provide free assistance to work seekers.
This assistance includes “the compilation of CVs, job preparation, life skills, employment counselling and access to job opportunities that employers have made available.”
South Africa has one of the biggest social welfare programmes in the world with more than 18 million beneficiaries of social grants.
In his recent Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana warned that a permanent extension of the SRD grant would have to be supported by a permanent increase in government revenue, reduction of spending elsewhere, or both.