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Fewer than half of applications for Covid-19 distress grants approved

Out of 11.4 million applicants for June, only 5.2-million got the go-ahead

14 July 2022 - 22:44
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has published draft regulations to amend some of the qualification criteria for the R350 monthly social relief of distress grants. File photo.
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has published draft regulations to amend some of the qualification criteria for the R350 monthly social relief of distress grants. File photo.
Image: GCIS

The department of social development on Thursday said it was concerned at the low numbers of approvals for the Covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grants.

The department said out of 11.4-million applicants for June, only 5.2-million beneficiaries were approved — less than half.

The department said in line with the undertaking that it would review the threshold should the numbers indicate this, social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has published for public comment draft regulations to amend some of the qualification criteria.

The key proposed amendments relate to the maximum allowable income, the application of the bank verification and the requirement for applicants to confirm their need for the grant every three months.

“In this regard, the department is proposing to increase the maximum allowable income from R350 to the food poverty line of R624, meaning that (the SA Social Security Agency) will decline any applicant who receives more than R624 into their bank account for each relevant month.

“It is important to state that the assessment will be conducted monthly, and should the income received into the account in a particular month fall below the R624, such an applicant will then qualify for the grant,” the department said

The department said the value of the grant itself remains R350 per person per month for the period April 1 2022 to March 31 2023.

The department said 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.”

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.”

The department apologised for the long delay in assessing the April and May applications for the SRD grants. It said it was doing everything in its power to fast track the assessments, especially the bank verification processes.

“During July, we will be finalising the outstanding payments for those who were approved for June, and also complete the approvals and payments for the April applications,” the department said.

TimesLIVE


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