Grant to Be Canceled : Government Faces Uncertainty as R350 Social Relief Grant Nears Its End in 2024
Destitute South Africans have been receiving the R350 social relief grant, a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic, but their future remains uncertain as the grant is set to be suspended in March 2024. The South African government is yet to establish a clear plan for what will replace this essential support, leaving millions of vulnerable citizens in a precarious position.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu recently confirmed that no agreement has been reached regarding the future of the Covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant or any successor program after the current arrangement expires. This revelation came in response to a written parliamentary question posed by GOOD MP Brett Herron.
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One of the major challenges facing the government in this regard is fiscal constraints, preventing them from increasing the value of the grant. Zulu expressed concerns about the grant’s diminishing value due to inflation. She noted that the grant’s value has remained unchanged since its implementation in 2020, causing it to erode in real terms as inflation continues to rise.
The Department of Social Development did make an attempt to persuade the National Treasury to increase the grant’s value. However, this request was met with resistance due to the government’s fiscal limitations. The uncertainty regarding the grant’s future is causing anxiety among those who depend on it for their basic needs.
Brett Herron, the GOOD MP, criticized the government’s inaction on this issue, calling it unacceptable. He pointed out that the grant’s stagnant value, coupled with rising inflation, is pushing families further into poverty and hunger. Recent statistics from StatsSA indicate a 14% increase in food prices over the past 12 months, exacerbating the challenges faced by the most vulnerable.
Herron emphasized that the government has a constitutional obligation to provide for the basic needs of its citizens, especially in times of economic hardship. He argued that the Department of Social Development must explore sustainable, permanent interventions to assist the working-age population and combat poverty effectively.
Herron’s party is advocating for the establishment of a permanent basic income grant to provide ongoing support to vulnerable individuals and families. He believes that this is not only possible through reprioritization but also necessary for addressing the deep-seated issues of poverty and inequality in South Africa.
As the R350 social relief grant’s end date looms closer, the government faces growing pressure to address the urgent needs of its most disadvantaged citizens and implement a plan that ensures a more stable and reliable social safety net.