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Social Development says over 4 million R350 Covid-19 social relief grants paid out

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Sassa has received over 7 million applications for the Covid-19 distress grant and so far just over 4 million applicants have been paid.

Picture: Danie van der Lith/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg – The Department of Social Development says over 4 million applicants have been paid the R350 Covid-19 social relief grant at a cost of over R1 billion.

The department tabled its annual performance plans in Parliament on Thursday.

Sassa has received over 7 million applications for the Covid-19 distress grant and so far just over 4 million applicants have been paid. 
The Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April as part of the government’s Covid-19 relief strategy. It is meant to benefit unemployed individuals who have no source of income. The grant will run until the end of October.
The grant has been marred with controversy with the SA Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) application and approval methods being criticised.

Last month, the agency had to backtrack and revise its compliance measures which saw many unemployed individuals being excluded from the grant as the system had flagged them as recipients of the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Many of the rejected applications were reconsidered after it was revealed that over 85% of UIF cases that were deemed to not qualify, actually did qualify.

Graphics supplied by Department of Social Development
Graphics supplied by Department of Social Development
Graphics supplied by Department of Social Development
There have also been reports of some beneficiaries struggling to obtain the grant as they do not have bank accounts and were being sent one time pins that did not work. Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi had yet to respond to Independent Media’s questions regarding these issues.

The department told Parliament that it would have to cut back on various expenses to support the additional relief being offered.
“The department also stated in its presentation that non-critical posts for both Sassa and NDA will not be filled during the current financial year as the funds will be shifted towards helping South Africans as they grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the department said in a statement.

The applicants who had applied for the grant will be regularly assessed to ensure that still do not earn an income.
“Sassa reported that the introduction of the new grants had forced them to reprioritise and deliver its services differently. The agency 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,” the department said.

The department also told MPs that is also considering proposals on the feasibility of introducing an income grant.

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