File Picture: David Ritchie
File Picture: David Ritchie

Black Sash concerned about ’low’ Covid-19 social relief of distress grant

By Vernon Mchunu Time of article published Aug 19, 2021

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DURBAN - While welcoming the reinstatement of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, human rights advocacy group Black Sash has raised concern over the state’s failure to hike it to “at least the Food Poverty Line”.

“The Black Sash welcomes the decision that the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant will be reinstated until March 2022,” said Black Sash national advocacy manager, Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker.

“We are pleased that the grant’s eligibility criteria has now been expanded to include unemployed caregivers who receive the Child Support Grant (CSG) on behalf of children. About 95% of CSG recipients are women who were unfairly discriminated against as individuals in their own right by not being eligible for the previous Covid-19 SRD grant,” she said.

Abrahams-Fayker expressed concern over failure by the state to increase the grant.

“It is concerning that the grant was not increased to at least the Food Poverty Line, which is currently R585 per month,” she said.

“We will continue to advocate for permanent social assistance for the unemployed pegged at the Upper Bound Poverty Line, currently R1 268, while working towards a universal basic income as our ultimate goal.

“Given the country’s structural unemployment crisis, the Black Sash has repeatedly said that job creation programmes must be complemented with income support measures and a more comprehensive social security programme,” she said.

“The Black Sash calls on the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to ensure more effective implementation of the Covid-19 SRD grant by urgently attending to the grant’s numerous administrative inefficiencies. Sassa must improve the grant’s application systems, appeals, payment processes with quicker turnaround times, and develop a more effective communication strategy with applicants and beneficiaries,” added Abrahams-Fayker.

Asked about platforms that are currently available for making applications for the grant, Sassa spokesperson Sandy Godlwane said that other than the Sassa website and its facebook page, the USSD and WhatsApp channels were currently not operational.

“Sorry, for now that’s the message I received from the national (government) regarding those with no internet access,” she said.

THE MERCURY

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