The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) intends to pay recipients of the new Covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant from mid-June. Payments for the new cycle of the Covid R350-a-month will resume from mid-June.
Brenda Sibeko, the deputy director-general of the Department of Social Development told the department’s portfolio committee that R350 grant payments are delayed because the agency had to procure the services of banks to conduct the means test.
Millions of South Africans who previously qualified for the R350 social grant are no longer eligible for the grant. The grant will only be paid to those who earn R350 or less. Under the new regulations, all applicants have to undergo a means test and anyone who earns R350 per month or more will be disqualified.
During the means test, banks will confirm whether the ID number is linked to any other bank account, allowing the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to check whether the applicant has multiple bank accounts and source of income.
Approved applicants do not need to re-apply for the grant each month, but regular checks will be conducted each month to see whether the applicants still qualify for the R350.
Addressing Parliament’s portfolio committee for Social Development on Friday, Sibeko said SASSA would conduct regular checks of applicant’s bank accounts for income, including support from family members. If the applicant receives more than R350 in their account, then the applicant will not qualify.
Lindiwe Zulu, the Minister of Social Development said the means test had to be introduced to help the department keep within the budget of R44 billion for the grant.
Sibeko said more than 18 million people live below the food poverty line of R624 a month, and 13 million have no income at all. “The grant which can assist 10.5 million people cannot cover everyone who is unemployed,” she said.
The Black Sash and the #PayTheGrants campaign have slammed the delayed payments. “Millions of people have now gone without means of their livelihood because of government toing and froing,” said the Black Sash national director, Rachael Bukasa.
“We appreciate that they need to put systems in place but there is no excuse to punish the most vulnerable in our society because of that,” Bukasa added.
Source: The South African, Daily Maverick, Moneyweb, image from Twitter