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The R20 increase in Social Relief of Distress grant is a ‘slap in the face’ – #PayTheGrants activist

The R20 increase in Social Relief of Distress grant is a ‘slap in the face’ – #PayTheGrants activist
The R350 Social Relief of Distress grant has been increased by R20, a ‘slap in the face’ of beneficiaries, says advocacy group #PayTheGrants. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu)

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced the Social Relief of Distress grant is expected to increase by R20 this April. An activist from #PayTheGrant said the increase wouldn’t cover inflation, let alone help pay for a basket of basic foodstuff.

The Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant will be raised from R350 to R370 from April 2024, Finance Minister Enoch Gondongwana announced in the National Assembly on Wednesday, 13 March 2024.

The announcement follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s confirmation in his State of the Nation Address in February that the grant, originally a Covid relief plan to assist those who were struggling, will continue for another year.

Gondongwana said: “The [SRD grant] is going to continue, and the R350 will be improved. My colleague, the minister of social development, is going to publish for comments a comprehensive social security programme that … will define a better platform and a future for the social security net in South Africa.”

social grant godongwana

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

“I am pleased to say that we have found consensus that in between, subject to the finalisation of the comprehensive social security [programme], we’ll increase the R350 to R370 by the 1st of April this year. That is part of the progressive realisation of the basic rights of our people,” he said.

In his Budget speech, delivered in February, Godongwana announced that social grants across the board were set to increase over the course of 2024:

  • Old age, war veterans, disability and care dependency grants – up by R100 to R2,185. This increase will be split into R90 effective from April and R10 effective October;
  • Foster care grants – up by R50 to R1,180; and
  • Child support grants – up R20 to R530.

Godongwana said in his speech: “We are sensitive to the increase in the cost of living for the nearly 19 million South Africans who rely on these grants to make ends meet. In this regard, we have done as much as the fiscal envelope allows.”

While 19 million people receive permanent grants, an additional 8.5 million people receive the R350 SRD grant each month.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Millions of poor people still excluded from Social Relief of Distress grant, say activists

Elizabeth Raiters, the help desk head at advocacy group #PayTheGrants, said of the SRD grant increase: “This increase is a slap in the face of beneficiaries, seeing that the SRD hasn’t been increased since it was implemented and to come four years later and increase it by R20 yet the R350 has already lost so much of its value [due to inflation] is an insult to beneficiaries.”

Raiters said the group had expected the grant to go up to the food basket price, which she said was R450.

“I don’t believe this increase will make an impact on beneficiaries, as you know most beneficiaries are already receiving less than R350 every month because they have to pay bank charges and monthly bank fees because Sassa [the South African Social Security Association] has forced their hand to upload bank details…

“It feels like the minister has lost touch [with what’s happening] on the ground. He needs to come down on the ground again and see what’s happening,” Raiters said.

#PayTheGrants has been pushing for the implementation of a basic universal income grant (BIG), which has been endorsed by major trade unions, faith organisations and more than 250 other organisations.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Special Covid grants not only provided income relief – they also improved labour market outcomes

Raiters said the R20 increase was motivated by the National Treasury’s concerns rather than the Department of Social Development or Sassa.

“I would like to hear from the [social development] minister on what she is thinking about this R20 increase and how she feels about it,” Raiters said.

Civil society has been calling for the SRD grant to be increased to meet the poverty line.

Following the Budget, the Institute for Economic Justice said: “The [SRD] grant should be increased to the Food Poverty Line [FPL] of R663; the means test raised to the Upper Bound Poverty Line; and the exclusionary provisions denying millions access to the grant revoked. At the very least, an inflationary increase for the period 2020-2023 should immediately be introduced, and a commitment to improve the grant to the FPL during the year via a supplementary budget if necessary.” DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    The ANC is a disgrace

  • Random Comment says:

    “an insult to beneficiaries”. Since when is a handout AN INSULT?

    What about the long-suffering SA taxpayers? Do they ever get to feel “insulted”?

  • ilike homophones says:

    even the R20 per month, suggested by Oom LAPA, to be enough to sustain a family, would be R1 095 today!! (10% increase per year over 43 year)

  • William Dryden says:

    The more you increase the handout ,more people will claim, the more you give the less people will look for work even if there was plenty.

  • James Webster says:

    As is the continued rape of the South African taxpayer, as is the non-stop corruption and patronage embraced by the ANC and tacitly encouraged by all those who vote for it, as is the increasing discrimination enforced by BEE, as is the insane amount that civil servants get paid for indolent and inefficient services, as is the incompetence of almost every majority staffed structure in SA, but you don’t whine about those issues do you ?

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