The Black Sash welcomes the decision announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 25 July 2021 that the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant will be reinstated until March 2022. We are pleased that the grant’s eligibility criteria has now been expanded to include unemployed Caregivers who receive the Child Support Grant (CSG) on behalf of children. About 95% of CSG recipients are women who were unfairly discriminated against as individuals in their own right by not being eligible for the previous Covid-19 SRD grant.
It is concerning though that the grant was not increased to at least the Food Poverty Line, which is currently R585 per month. We will continue to advocate for permanent social assistance for the unemployed pegged at the Upper Bound Poverty Line, currently R1 268, while working towards a universal basic income as our ultimate goal. Given the country’s structural unemployment crisis, the Black Sash has repeatedly said that job creation programmes must be complemented with income support measures and a more comprehensive social security programme.
The Black Sash calls on SASSA to ensure more effective implementation of the Covid-19 SRD grant by urgently attending to the grant’s numerous administrative inefficiencies. SASSA must improve the grant’s application systems, appeals, payment processes with quicker turnaround times, and develop a more effective communication strategy with applicants and beneficiaries.
On Tuesday 27 July 2021 at 11h00 the Black Sash will launch a research publication titled, Social Protection in a Time of Covid – Lessons for Basic Income Support, where our recommendations will be outlined in more detail. The report investigates the systemic challenges involved in the implementation of the Covid-19 SRD grant and provides insights into the personal impact of the grant on beneficiaries. The findings of the report make recommendations for improving implementation of the Covid-19 SRD grant and calls for permanent Basic Income Support for those aged 18 to 59 years with little to no income.
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