Change Is Needed To Unlawful SRD Grant Regulations Say Activists.The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) recently made changes to the eligibility criteria for the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, sparking outcry from activist groups who believe these changes are exclusionary. One group, in particular, highlights the impact of the new regulations on eligible recipients who are now left without vital assistance.
Change Is Needed To Unlawful SRD Grant Regulations Say Activists
Understanding the SRD Grant
The SRD grant, commonly known as the R350 grant, serves as a lifeline for millions of vulnerable South Africans facing extreme poverty and minimal income. Originally introduced as a temporary relief measure during the Covid-19 pandemic, its value of R350 was extended due to the significant number of citizens relying on this monthly support.
Data reveals that approximately 20% of households in South Africa are food insecure, leading many individuals to seek food assistance from various sources daily. Without the SRD grant, an estimated 2 to 2.8 million people would have fallen into food poverty in 2020 and 2021.
Activist Groups Challenge the SRD Grant Regulations
The Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) and the #PayTheGrants campaign have taken legal action by launching an application in the Pretoria High Court against what they perceive as exclusionary regulations for the R350 grant.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) implemented several key amendments to the SRD grant’s qualification criteria, including changes related to bank verification, the requirement for applicants to confirm their need for the grant every three months, and the maximum allowable income.
According to the DSD, the proposed increase in the maximum allowable income from R350 to the food poverty line of R624 aims to ensure that only eligible applicants receive the grant. However, activists argue that the definition of “income” is too broad and should only include money received from employment, business activities, or investments.
The Advocates’ Stance
The activist groups strongly condemn the new regulations, alleging that they violate the rights of millions of deserving South Africans. They assert that the DSD and SASSA intentionally excluded many eligible applicants to manage the budgetary constraints for the 2023/2024 financial year.
Dr. Gilad Isaacs, co-director at the IEJ, highlights deliberate obstacles in accessing the grant, particularly the bank verification process, which does not account for fluctuations in recipients’ income. The activists argue that these barriers lead to unfair exclusions from the SRD grant.
Appeals and Delayed Payments
The application process for the SRD grant is exclusively online, posing difficulties for applicants without access to devices or an internet connection. The activists advocate for in-person application options to accommodate those facing digital challenges.
Additionally, the current appeal process lacks flexibility and prevents the submission of new evidence during appeals. The activists call for a more inclusive and reasonable appeals process.
Another pressing concern is the delayed disbursement of grant money to approved beneficiaries. Delays in receiving the grant can be devastating for those who depend on it for basic necessities.
The IEJ and #PayTheGrants campaign have petitioned the Pretoria High Court for a declaratory order that “income” should strictly refer to money received from employment, business activities, or investments. They also challenge the use of certain databases, which they consider inaccurate, to verify income.
The advocates are pushing for the court to rule against exclusionary measures, uphold applicants’ rights, and consider inflation and the cost of living when determining the grant’s eligibility threshold.
As the legal battle unfolds, the fate of millions of vulnerable South Africans remains uncertain. The court’s ruling could significantly impact the lives of those who rely on the SRD grant for their survival.
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