The Department of Social Development says it is concerned by the low number of approved applications for the R350 special COVID-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant.
The department said that this follows the implementation of the new regulations, including the checking of applicants’ bank accounts against the income threshold of R350.
“Out of 11.4 million applicants for the month of June, only 5.2 million beneficiaries were approved. This represents less than 50% of the applications,” the department said in a statement.
In line with the undertaking that the Department would review the threshold should the numbers indicate this, Minister Lindiwe Zulu has now published draft regulations to amend some of the qualification criteria for public comments for the period, 1 March 2022 to 31 March 2023.
The key proposed amendments relate to the maximum allowable income, the application of the bank verification and the requirement for applicants to confirm their need for the grant after every three months.
“In this regard, the Department is proposing to increase the maximum allowable income from R350 to the food poverty line of R624, meaning that SASSA will decline any applicant who receives more than R624 into their bank account for each relevant month,” the department said.
The department stated that the assessment will be conducted monthly, and should the income received into the account in a particular month fall below the R624; such an applicant will then qualify for the grant.
The value of the grant itself remains R350 per person per month for the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.
The second amendment seeks to remove the requirement for applicants to indicate if they require the grant after every three months, with the department saying applications are in any case assessed every month.
The third amendment is aimed at removing the clause that places the bank verification process as the main criteria for determining eligibility for the grant.
The department said that this is to ensure that SASSA applies all the different database checks, including the bank account income checks before making the decision to approve or decline the application.
The Department reminds applicants that, as in the previous dispensation, they must submit an appeal in each month for which they have been declined.
However, the appeal is now lodged directly with the Appeals Tribunal and no longer with SASSA. The new website for appeals is https://srd.dsd.gov.za
“The Department wishes to reiterate the request for all stakeholders to take this opportunity and submit comments on the draft regulations, to ensure that the most vulnerable individuals can benefit from the SRD grant,” the department said.
The Department has also extended its sincere apologies for the long delay in assessing the April and May applications saying': “We are doing everything in our power to fast track the assessments, especially the bank verification processes that are currently required by the regulations”.
During the month of July, the department said it will be finalising the outstanding payments for those who were approved for June, and complete the approvals and payments for the April applications. – SAnews.gov.za