The government’s social relief of distress (SRD) grant, popularly known as the R350 grant, will cost government R44 billion over the next 12 months.
This was announced on Wednesday by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana during his inaugural national budget speech in Cape Town. Godongwana said the R182 billion tax windfall boosted by a commodity boom would be used for the extension of the special grant.
R350 SRD grant
President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month extended the SRD grant by another year, until March 2023, during his State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Government first introduced the temporary relief measure in April 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of its R500 billion stimulus package.
The SRD grant is aimed at those aged between 18 and 59 years old, without any source of income support, and those facing undue financial hardships due to unemployment during the pandemic.
Godongwana said the Department of Social Development would receive the largest allocation of R58.6 billion over the medium term for its social welfare programmes.
The minister said more than 46% of South Africans were receiving social grants, translating to approximately 18 million South Africans.
“This emergency [R350] grant added to the country’s already extensive social safety net. South Africa now pays grants to more than 46 percent of the population,” he said.
Basic income grant
While National Treasury said it was still considering proposals around a universal basic income grant (BIG) for South Africa, there have been growing calls from civil society organisations for government to implement one to address the country’s high levels of unemployment poverty and inequalities.
READ MORE: Budget 2022 in a 5 minutes: 7 key takeaways
Human rights organisation, Black Sash, this month called on government to implement the BIG before the SRD grant is terminated in March next year.
The organisation said a permanent basic income support was inevitable given government’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.
“Given that the existence of the R350 SRD grant is dependent on the National State of Disaster, which will be lifted soon, the SRD grant must now be empowered by the Social Assistance Act.
“Incorporating the grant into the social assistance legal framework will help to begin the process of phasing in permanent income support for those aged 18 to 59 years with little to no income,” said Black Sash’s spokesperson Esley Philander.
Black Sash said it would continue to lobby, along with other civil society organisations, for the grant to be increased to R624 in order to match the SA’s Food Poverty Line.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe