Social Development wants to increase minimum income for grant recipients by almost double – The Citizen


News » South Africa » Government
Narissa Subramoney
The Social Development Department wants to improve access to South Africa’s welfare benefits.
Minister Lindiwe Zulu has published draft regulations to amend some of the provisions for the Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant for the period between 1 March 2022 to 31 March 2023.
These amendments come after the department promised to review the provisions if uptake of the grants were slow and in case other challenges surfaced.
The key proposed amendments relate to the maximum allowable income, the application of the bank verification and the requirement for beneficiaries to confirm their need for the grant after every three months.
The department wants to increase the maximum allowable income from R350 to the food poverty line of R624, meaning that Sassa will decline applicants who receive more than R624 into their bank account for each relevant month.
As of 30 June this year:
• A total of 11,4 million people applied for social assistance, of whom 43% are men and 57% are women.

• Caregivers of child support grant beneficiaries account for 4 million of the applications.

• At least 21 207 foreigners applied for grants, the majority of which are special permit holders from Lesotho (15 882), followed by asylum seekers at 2 133, and special permit holders from Zimbabwe and Angola at 1 613 and 1 579 respectively.

• Youngers under 35 years make up 60% of the applications, while 40% of the applicants have a grade 12 qualification and 5% a tertiary education.

• So far, SASSA has started paying the June applicants while also back paying the successful reconsiderations from August 2021 onwards.

• For June 2022 applications, 5,273 million beneficiaries have been approved, of whom 3,729 have been paid.
“Under the third iteration, we introduced the testing of income against the bank account for all applicants, and not only those who had been declined,” said Zulu in a statement.
“It should be noted that the maximum allowable income was set at R350, which meant that every applicant who was found to have received an income exceeding R350 in their bank account would be excluded.”
But now, in light of the new regulations, including checking bank accounts against the R350 income threshold, the department is concerned about the low number of approvals.
“Out of 11,4 million applicants for the month of June, only 5,2 million beneficiaries were approved,” explained Zulu.
The approvals represent less than 50% of the applications.
The value of the grant itself remains R350 per person per month for the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 and the second amendment seeks to remove the requirement for applicants to indicate if they require the grant after every three months.
“Since the applications are in any case assessed every month, the department is proposing to do away with this requirement,” said Zulu.
In addition, the third amendment is aimed at removing the clause that places the bank verification process as the main criteria for determining eligibility for the grant.
“This is to ensure that SASSA applies all the different database checks, including the bank account income checks before making the decision to approve or decline the application.”
Applicants can submit an appeal for each month they have been declined directly with the Appeals Tribunal.
The department has requested all stakeholders to submit comments on the draft regulations, to ensure that the most vulnerable individuals can benefit from the SRD grant.
“The department also extends sincere apologies for the long delay in assessing the April and May applications and we are doing everything in our power to fast track the assessments, especially, the bank verification processes that are currently required by the regulations.”
Its currently finalising the outstanding payments for those who were approved for June and is also completing the approvals and payments for the April applications.
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