In a move aimed at addressing the persistent vulnerability of the country’s unemployed citizens, South Africa’s Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, has proposed the extension of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant until the end of the 2025/26 financial year.
This initiative is set to cushion the impact of high unemployment rates and rising food prices. However, the SRD grant of R350, against rising costs of living, is simply not enough to sustain those who are not in the labour market. A quote from an article published by IOL reads as follows:
“Unions and civil society have proposed the basic income grant of more than R350 and said it would be able to sustain many people who are not in the labour market.”
However, according to Zulu, the government is working on the development of a Basic Income Support (BIS) policy, which is expected to offer a more permanent and sustainable solution to alleviate poverty and food insecurity in the nation.
The active SRD grant was introduced in 2020 in response to the economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was initially designed to provide temporary financial relief to those most affected by the pandemic. The government has since extended the SRD grant to support the nation’s most vulnerable residents.
Despite these efforts, the vulnerability of beneficiaries to hunger and poverty persists, largely due to persistently high unemployment rates and escalating food prices.
To address this, Minister Zulu has proposed the extension of the SRD grant until the end of the 2025/26 financial year. This extension, according to Zulu, will provide continued support while the government works on a more comprehensive and lasting solution. Zulu says:
“Given the ongoing vulnerability of the beneficiaries to hunger and poverty because of continuing high unemployment and the escalating food prices, the department is proposing the extension of the SRD until end of 2025/26 financial year, this will allow the department to finalise the Basic Income Support policy on a more permanent and sustainable intervention.”
The draft of the Basic Income Support policy will be submitted for approval by the Cabinet and subsequently published for public comments.
To provide more details on the extension of the SRD grant and the financial implications, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana is expected to make an announcement during the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in November.
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