Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has published new amendments for the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to be payable for the months in the period 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024.
In this draft, Zulu has made it clear that this won't in any way affect the SRD grant's current value of R350 that is paid to individuals on a monthly basis.
Interested persons or organisations were invited to submit written comments on the draft regulations until 7 March 2023.
Some civil society groups welcomed the opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments to the 2022 Regulations relating to the SRD grant, but they were also deeply concerned that the extension is limited to twelve months.
In a joint written comments submission by the Institute for Economic Justice and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute, the two civil society groups have indicated key concerns relating to the government handling this grant
In a statement, the groups said:
The removal of the SRD grant will worsen already alarming levels of food insecurity.
According to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy, food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation is sitting at the highest point since May 2008 and more than double the upper inflation target limit.
It is for this reason that the lobby groups have also called for the value of the grant to be raised immediately to a minimum of R413 to account for inflation since 2020, including a plan to increase it progressively until it reaches the current Federal Poverty Level.
Addition to this, they also want the new Regulations to clearly state order in which verification checks are performed, and which information is more important.
This comes after a great number of applications had been rejected for the SRD grant in the previous year.
In March 2022, more than 10 million people relied on the SRD grant to survive but those numbers plummeted when the means test was amended to R350. The minimum income required to qualify for the grant was then raised to R624.
Dr. Maureen Mogotsi who is the Acting Chief Director of Social Assistance revealed that research shows that the grant is being used for basic needs and it is through the SRD grant that the department is trying to ensure that the basic needs of beneficiaries are met.
The Department of Social Development is working on linking SRD grant beneficiaries to job opportunities, but this effort will need other departments to come on board and assist in absorbing the grant beneficiaries.
There has been a decline in the number of beneficiaries receiving grants as 10% of the beneficiaries have migrated into employment.