Nearly a quarter of South African households depend on subsidies as their main source of income: survey

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Civil society organizations are taking the government to court over what they say are “unfair” and “exclusive” regulations for the Social Distress Relief (SRD) grant.

According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), social grants are main source of income for 24.4% of all households in the country.

The rollout of SRD Covid-19 subsidies in 2020 has played a central role in protecting individuals and households against loss of income in recent years and is the second largest source of household income after wages, said Stats SA .

However, access to the grant has become very restrictive, with civil society groups now backtracking.

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At a press conference on Thursday, the Black Sash, #PayTheGrants, Amanda.mobi, the Center for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), the Institute for Economic Justice and the Social Policy Initiative announced that they had filed a lawsuit against the government in the High Court in Pretoria to have the current regulations declared unconstitutional and struck down, reports GroundUp.

The groups also oppose the “arbitrary means test” which prohibits already vulnerable South Africans who had previously been eligible for the subsidy from accessing the subsidy if they earn more than R350 per month.

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According to GroundUp, since April 2022, more than 10 million grant applicants have not been paid, leading lawyers from the Institute for Economic Justice to send a letter of demand to address the urgent concern.

Rachel Bukasa from the civil organization Black Sash said the new grant application process, introduced earlier this month, is littered with problems. People who receive more than one grant, such as a mother receiving child support and SRD, are disqualified.

The national black belt director said they would challenge unfair practices where grants were not paid and added that the new regulations are too restrictive, especially when the cost of food and other expenses are on the rise.

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Where do the grants go


Subsidies were most important as the main source of income for households in the Eastern Cape (42.0%) and Limpopo (35.2%).

Stats SA said that due to high use of the R350 per month grant, the percentage of individuals who accessed grants increased to 35.7% in 2021, while the percentage of households who received at less a subsidy increased to 50.6% in 2021.


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