Increase Covid-19 SRD grant From R350 to R624 | Black Sash Demands.
The Black Sash demands that the government implement permanent Basic Income Support for those aged 18 to 59 years with little to no income! Unemployment, poverty, and inequality have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. This crisis is not temporary; a more extensive social security programme is needed to complement job creation programmes.
The government is constitutionally obligated under Section 27 of the Constitution to progressively realise the right to social assistance for those unable to support themselves.
The government also ratified the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This human rights Covenant recommended that government ensures that “those between the ages of 18 and 59 with little or no income have access to social assistance” and consider a universal basic income grant for everyone.
Government temporarily introduced social relief measures to buffer the negative impact of the pandemic. A significant intervention was the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant for the unemployed with a monthly means test threshold of zero-rated income.
Following several extensions and its termination in April 2021, the Covid-19 SRD was reinstated in August 2021, but with the expanded eligibility criteria, until March 2022. This included an increase to the monthly means test threshold to R595, and unemployed caregivers who receive the Child Support Grant on behalf of children are now eligible to apply.
The Covid-19 SRD grant is an acknowledgment of the limited work opportunities for the unemployed in South Africa. The grant is the first step toward the permanent extension of the social assistance framework to include the unemployed while working toward a Basic Income Grant.
The Black Sash demands that government:
- Immediately increase the reinstated Covid-19 SRD grant to at least the Food Poverty Line, currently R624, until social assistance for the unemployed is made permanent
- Implement permanent income support for those aged 18 to 59 years with little to no income, valued at the upper-bound poverty line, currently R1 335 per month. Unemployed Caregivers, who receive the Child Support Grant, must also qualify;
- Make the Covid-19 increases of R250 per month permanent for all grants
- Ensures that refugees, permanent residents, asylum seekers, and migrant workers with special permits also qualify and receive their grant; and
- Work towards a universal basic income for all.