'Punished for being poor' - activists slam new rules on R350 Covid-19 grant

Presenter John Maytham chats to Isobel Frye, the director of the Social Policy Initiative.

  • Various activist organisations have criticised government's new rules for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant

  • Under the revised regulations, millions of recipients of the R350 will have to reapply for it

  • Fewer people will qualify R350 grant due to stricter eligibility criteria

  • Isobel Frye, from the Social Policy Initiative, says the changes will have devastating consequences for the poorest of the poor



Picture: pixabay.com

Civil society organisations have slammed the Department of Social Development (DSD) after it published new regulations governing applications and eligibility for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant.

The regulations, which were previously part of South Africa's disaster declaration, have now been revised and re-issued under the Social Assistance Act.

Under the updated rules, recipients of the R350 grant will need to re-apply.

The new legislative framework also carries a revised income criteria, narrowing the number of people who are eligible to receive the relief.

Previously, anyone with income over R624 was excluded from the grant now the new income threshold has been lowered to R350, according to Isobel Frye, the director of the Social Policy Initiative.

Frye says the new regulations are an example of the many punitive measures that the government places against the country's most vulnerable people.

"Social security is meant to be a safety net for the most vulnerable and yet we are intent on punishing people for being poor", she says.

Frye claims the DSD formulated the changes to regulations at the last minute and grant applicants are likely to struggle for several months due to major inefficiency within the department.

She has described the state as reluctant and uncaring.

They sat on the regulations and this has been left until the last minute... people are now having to re-apply.

Isobel Frye, Executive director - Social Policy Initiative

The applications process is time-consuming and costly for people who have nothing... for people, this is the only income they are getting.

Isobel Frye, Executive director - Social Policy Initiative

In terms of the attitude of the State, it is always setting up hurdles and obstacles that the most vulnerable have to negotiate.

Isobel Frye, Executive director - Social Policy Initiative

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