Sassa Fails To Increase Value Of R350 Grant

The Sassa R350 grant continues to play a crucial role in bridging the gap between absolute poverty and its beneficiaries. However, the Department of Social Development has faced criticism for keeping the grant at R350 despite the rise in the cost of living since it was first introduced three years ago.

The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu has confirmed that her department has given proper consideration to the proposal to increase the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant. 

The proposal, tabled by the Institute for Economic Justice and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, calls for an increase to a minimum of R413 in line with inflation, considering the rising cost of living since the R350 grant was first introduced in 2020.

Responding to a question by Member of the National Assembly, Liezl Linda van der Merwe, the Minister said that her department is concerned that the value of the grant has not increased since its inception, resulting in the purchasing power of the grant diminishing and not keeping pace with inflation. 

She added that food inflation is likely to increase the vulnerability of the poor, compounding the triple challenge of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. To this end, the Department conducted research and modelling work in 2021 and 2022, which supported a proposal to increase the value of the provision. 

Accordingly, the Department made a request to National Treasury for an inflationary increase to the value of the grant from R350 to R420 by its next cycle. However, the proposal was not approved by the National Treasury.

The Minister emphasized that her department is implementing a decision of the government, as announced by the President during the State of the Nation Address in February 2023, based on the resources that have been allocated by the National Treasury.

She assured the public that her department will continue to engage with the National Treasury to consider an inflationary increase to the R350 grant.

Meanwhile, it has also been reported that 47% of South Africans currently depend on some form of social grant. In addition to this, a study has also revealed that recipients of the R350 grant have resorted to using their grant payments to start informal businesses in an effort to generate more income.

The R350 grant was introduced in April 2020 as a temporary measure to provide relief to those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic. The grant has since been extended multiple times, with the latest extension announced in April 2023. 

The grant is currently set at R350 per month and is available to unemployed South Africans and those who are not receiving any other form of income support. The grant is expected to assist over 9 million beneficiaries.


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