National News/ 11 October 2022, 09:45am / Staff Writer
By Staff Writer: The department of social development will “top up” the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress and Child Support Grants during October.
The social relief of distress grant (SRD) of R350 will be increased to R624, and the child support grant (CSG) will receive a top up from R480 to R720 per child per month, said Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
“We increased the means test threshold from R350 to R624 that is in line with the estimated Food Poverty Line for 2022, We may have to consider a further adjustment to the threshold to enable more applicants to qualify for the benefit,” she said.
According to Statistics SA, 35.1 million adults are living in poverty, which speaks to the number of people who are in need of monthly grants from the government.
The adjustments to the criteria of who qualifies for the social relief of distress grant came weeks after millions had been denied the grants, which was initially only R350 under the transition from the Disaster Management Act to the Social Assistance Act. The adjustment allowed for more people to receive the monthly benefit because the department experienced a lower than 50% up-take of the budgeted R44-billion.
“Having noted the public outcry regarding the qualifying criteria that was introduced during the third iteration of this benefit, on Tuesday, 16 August we published the amended regulations that simplified some complexities that were arising from the qualifying criteria. These simplified regulations have had the desired effect in that the number of applicants that Sassa received increased to more than 12 million,” said Zulu.
As of October 2022, nearly 7.5 million people have received the social relief of distress grant monthly, but the department has committed to supporting 10.5 million applicants who qualified for the grant.
“The Disaster Management Act enabled us to pay the Covid-19 SRD to 7.5 million beneficiaries within a short space of time. The lifting of the National State of Disaster in March 2022 challenged the department of social development to immediately develop new regulations under the Social Assistance Act,” explained Zulu.
“We note that it is in the interest of the income-less, unemployable and vulnerable sections of our population for the implementation of the Covid-19 SRD to improve”.
At the start of October 2022, the department had called on only caregivers of orphaned children to apply for the Child Support Grant Top-up at their nearest South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices. The grant was designed to improve the accessibility of the child support grant programme to as best as possible meet the basic needs of orphans, said Zulu.
“Increasing the amount of the Child Support Grant for orphans is the government’s latest investment that is aimed at creating a better life for children living in poverty. The only additional proof that is required from the caregiving relatives is that the child is an orphan in that both parents are deceased.”
Despite the top-up process being streamlined to not require a social worker’s report or court order, the caregiver who does need to see a social worker before they can approach Sassa are those under 18 years who are looking after their orphaned siblings in child-headed households.
“Before they [child caregivers] approach Sassa, they need to see a social worker who will assess their situation, complete a form in terms of section 137 of the Children’s Act, and provide them with the extra support that they need due to not having an adult in the household,” said Zulu. “The turnaround time of this application process, verification and payment should be within one month.”