This week, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu gazetted the new regulations which include an increase in the income threshold. The income threshold was increased from R350 to R624, which aligns with the food poverty line determined by Stats SA in September 2021.
Carilee Osbourne, a research associate at the Institute for Economic Justice, was thrilled by the increase in the means test threshold but believes that the value should be higher.
By increasing the grant to meet the upper-bound poverty line, more individuals who require financial assistance will be able to benefit from the grant.
"If the government's own measures of poverty are that the upper-bound poverty line is R1,335, we believe that anyone below that level should be qualifying for the grant", said Osbourne.
A few other changes were also made to the R350 grant requirements. Bank verifications are no longer the main criteria for determining eligibility for the R350 grant.
Beneficiaries no longer need to answer questionnaires every three months to prove that they still qualify for the grant. However, each month the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will check if the recipient is still eligible.
"When we opened up for applications, we realised that we were having a mass of people who weren’t being approved and the reason why is because of the threshold. And therefore the regulations are a reference to lifting the amount in terms of the threshold so that we get as many who qualify as they qualified in the past."
"Because it became a bit of a problem that you have in the past been approved but with the new regulations you have less people being approved and we realised this had to do with the threshold," said Zulu.
Sassa adjusted the requirement for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to allow more people the opportunity to benefit from the grant.
Although more people may now qualify for the grant, Sassa and the Department of Social Development need to address the challenges faced during the application process.