Social development dept suggests continuing R350 grant for about three years

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations was busy processing the Second Special Appropriations Bill, which if approved, will give the department R26.7 billion to ease the impact of the COVID pandemic and July riots.

FILE: The grant’s payment has been extended to the end of March next year. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Social Development said it received more than 12 million applications for the R350 a month social relief of distress grant by 1 September.

The grant’s payment has been extended to the end of March next year. The department appeared before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday.

The committee was busy processing the Second Special Appropriations Bill, which if approved, will give the department R26.7 billion to ease the impact of the COVID pandemic and deal with the aftermath of the July riots in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The Department of Social Development said 5.4 million were completely new applications while almost seven million were returning applicants, 62% of those applying were people aged between 18 and 35.

The department’s Brenton van Vrede said the support needed to continue beyond March next year:

“This is a ticking timebomb. We saw what happened in April when the grant was stopped for about three months. With the unrest we’ve also seen in July, we do think there is a need for an extension beyond this. At least for a minimum of three years.”

Acting director general Linton Mchunu told the committee a longer-term solution would be a phased-in basic income grant.

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