R350 grant means test should be higher, says Institute for Economic Justice

It suggested at least R1,335, which is government’s measure of the upper-bound poverty line

19 August 2022 - 12:00
By Unathi Nkanjeni
The means test threshold for the social relief of distress grant has been increased from R350 to R624. File photo.
Image: SA government via Twitter The means test threshold for the social relief of distress grant has been increased from R350 to R624. File photo.

The increase in the social relief of distress (SRD) grant’s means test threshold has been met with mixed reviews, with a Johannesburg-based think-tank arguing it should be higher. 

The means test threshold for the R350 grant was recently increased from R350 to R624. 

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu gazetted the new regulation to increase the income threshold, which is the food poverty line set by Stats SA in September 2021. 

This means anyone with a monthly income of more than R624 a month will not qualify for the grant.

The new regulations come after concern about the income threshold being reduced from R595 to R350.

Means test 'should be at least R1,335'

Speaking on 702, the Institute for Economic Justice suggested the means test should be at least R1,335, which is government’s measures of the upper-bound poverty line.

“Increasing the grant’s means test to R624 is a step in the right direction because we can all agree R350 was far too low,” said the institute’s research associate Carilee Osborne.

“What we are arguing as the Institute for Economic Justice, with our coalition partners, is that this needs to be a lot higher. If the government’s own measures are that the upper-bound poverty line is R1,335, we believe anyone below that level should be qualifying for the grant.

‘Self-exclusion’ applications

Last month the social development department said of out of 11.4-million applicants for June, 5.2-million were approved, or less than half.

The department said the reduced threshold was a factor in the number of applications declined.

However, in a statement, the institute said applicants were denied on the basis of “self-exclusionary” answers given to questions on the newly introduced application form. 

“Much of this stems from the fact that the application form is confusing and asks unjustified and leading questions. The application form is only available in English. 

“Applicants are asked to provide ID details of their partners and parents for no justifiable reason. It is not sufficiently clear which questions are optional and which are compulsory. The application form also asks confusing questions about peoples’ past employment and methods of survival which cannot provide a basis for a decision about their eligibility,” it said.

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