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Special COVID-19 Grant Under the Spotlight

July 10, 2020

Department of Social Development

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has to date paid the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 to over 3 million eligible beneficiaries.

The social development department announced this in a statement on the Special COVID-19 Grant.

The department and its agencies recently briefed parliament on their revised Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2020/2021-2022/2023.

“The Department and its entities had to revise their APPs in order to improve the sector’s response to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.”

The department pointed out that the Special COVID-19 SRD Grant will be paid for 6 months, but the “demand for income support for the unemployed and those who have lost their jobs will go beyond this period”.

As a response, the department is drawing up a policy proposal on the feasibility of an income support to South Africans between the ages of 18-59 who have no income support.

“This is a result of the introduction of the Special COVID-19 SRD grant that has revived the discussion of the feasibility of a Basic Income Grant (BIG) as was recommended by the Taylor Report in 2002.”

SASSA informed the portfolio committee on social development that the advent of COVID-19 has forced it to speed up the process of using “emerging technologies to modernize and transform its operations such as the introduction of electronic and online channels”.

SASSA also reported that it will be “reassessing all Special COVID-19 SRD grant applications to ensure that where circumstances of beneficiaries’ income status have changed, the grant can be suspended”.

Meanwhile, in a statement on the strategy for restoring lapsing disability grants, SASSA indicated that the strategy provides for a phased-in approach due to the limited access to health facilities.

SASSA also confirmed that care dependency grants which lapsed as the care dependent child turned 18 years of age in the period from February to October 2020 will remain in payment until October 2020.