SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PUBLISHES AMENDMENTS TO THE COVID 19 SOCIAL RELIEF OF DISTRESS

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By Staff Reporter

• Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu has extended the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant until 31st March 2025 through Amendments published in Government Notice No. R. 4466 on 25th March 2024. This extension, in line with the Social Assistance Act, aims to continue supporting poor, unemployed, and vulnerable individuals affected by the pandemic.
• Introduced as part of the Presidential Stimulus Package during the COVID-19 global crisis, the COVID-19 SRD grant has significantly impacted the lives of unemployed working-age individuals, reducing extreme poverty. It has also facilitated job searches for formal and informal employment opportunities.
• The amended Covid-19 SRD Regulations include the provisioning for a R20 increase in the grant and introducing new regulations on “Recovery and Uncollected benefits,” “Death of COVID-19 SRD beneficiary,” and “Transitional provision” to enhance the administration and effectiveness of the provision. These amendments aim to ensure efficient payment administration, address the lapsing of benefits in case of beneficiary death, and facilitate uninterrupted assessments and payments during transitional periods.

Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to extend the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, published the Amendments to the COVID-19 SRD Regulations in Government Notice No. R. 4466 on 25th March 2024. These amendments provide for the extension of the benefit until 31st March 2025, as prescribed by Section 32(1) and (2), read with Section 13 of the Social Assistance Act, 2004 (Act No.13 of 2004).

Introduced during the COVID-19 global pandemic as part of the Presidential Stimulus Package, the COVID-19 SRD grant has had a meaningful impact on the lives of poor, unemployed, and vulnerable working-age individuals; some of whom have lost their jobs and breadwinners.

Since its implementation in 2020, this provision has proven to be one of the government’s effective interventions and measures for alleviating poverty. The grant has significantly reduced food poverty among unemployed working-age individuals and has diminished the number of people living in extreme poverty. Moreover, it has empowered individuals to seek formal and informal employment opportunities, without any attached conditions.

The amended COVID-19 SRD Regulations seek to:

• Amend sub-regulations 5 (1) and (3) to provide for payment of R20.00 increase, bringing the new COVID-19 SRD value to R 370.00 and to allow for extension of the provision from 01 April 2024 to 31 March 2025, as announced by the Minister of Finance in last year’s MTBPS.

• Introduce Regulations 6A on “Recovery and Uncollected benefits”, (6B) on “Death of COVID-19 SRD beneficiary” and (6C) on “Transitional provision” are new insertions aimed at promoting effective and efficient administration of the provision.

Regulations 6A empowers the Agency to recover irregular payments and suspend and cancel approved but uncollected benefits within prescribed timeframes if the person fails to respond to the Agency’s request for personal details.

Regulation 6B provides for the lapsing of the benefit on the last day of the month in which the beneficiary died.

Regulation 6C seeks to ensure uninterrupted assessments and payments during the transition between the Regulations published on 29 March 2023 and these amendments.

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