Black Sash calls for increase of ‘inadequate’ R350 Covid-19 relief grant

12 February 2021 - 17:09
By Ernest Mabuza
The Black Sash has called for the R350 Covid grant to be extended until the end of the financial year. File photo.
Image: South African Government via Twitter The Black Sash has called for the R350 Covid grant to be extended until the end of the financial year. File photo.

The Black Sash says the three-month extension of the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant (SRD) announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday is inadequate.

The human rights organisation has demanded the grant be aligned with the upper-bound poverty line of R1,268.

It said in the interim, an adjustment to the food poverty line, now at R585, would be adequate.

The Black Sash said the Covid-19 pandemic continued to be an immediate threat and until there were large scale vaccinations, everyone remained at risk.

This meant economic growth would be constrained and sufficient access to health care, food and social security remained important lifelines.

The organisation said the unemployment rate was now at 30.8% or 43.1%, according to the expanded definition. This meant immediate state intervention in the form of direct cash transfers was required for those who were unable to meet their basic needs.

It said close to 10 million people applied for the Covid-19 social relief of distress grant and  about three million were rejected. This illustrated how pervasive poverty was.

It added that the president’s projection for a recovered economy with significant employment opportunities by the end of 2021 was extremely unrealistic.

“While we note the second three-month extension of the Covid-19 SRD grant, government must immediately adjust the eligibility criteria to include adult women who are unemployed and who receive a child support grant on behalf of children.”

It also said the government must extend the grant until the end of the 2020/2021 financial year, after which basic income support for those aged 18 to 59 years with no to little income needed to be made permanent.

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