The R350 grant income threshold has been changed in response to growing calls for it to be changed. Applicants of the grant would have suffered devastating consequences if this hadn’t been done, according to a human rights organization.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has withdrawn its litigation against the human rights organization Black Sash. Following recent changes, Sassa disbursed the R350 grant in August with changes to its regulations.
In an attempt to save money, the government published Regulations in April 2022 that reduced the eligibility requirements for SRD grants from R595 to R350.
Our legal application has been withdrawn in response to the amended Regulations, which we welcome. The fact that the grant system had to be reformed under legal pressure remains disheartening.
In this case, a beneficiary couldn’t have more than R350 in their bank account each month, regardless of how this money came from, as their bank account would be considered “too rich” for SRD benefits and they would be disqualified
Black Sash requested a review from the High Court of Pretoria, claiming that the new eligibility requirement is arbitrary and exclusionary, among other reasons. CALS (Center for Applied Legal Studies) represented a human rights organization.
During the litigation, regulations favoring bank verification information over other applicant information were raised, as well as the use of only digital systems or online platforms for R350 grant applications.
Among the reasons, Black Sash said, were the impossibly low R350 income threshold and the fact that beneficiaries cannot submit any new evidence or information when appealing rejections of SRD grant applications.
Sassa’s decision would have had devastating consequences for 15.5 million applicants for R350 grant monthly, Black Sash noted.
SRD R350 Grant Budget Reduced by SASSA
A reduction in SASSA’s grant budget was implemented in April 2022. Their amendment to the SRD grant’s regulations policy was made without consulting or taking advice from anyone. Due to this, the COVID-19 SRD qualifying amount has been reduced. All students enrolled in post-graduate programs and fellowships across the country would be affected by this, not just COVID-19 students.
Now, if you’re wondering why this is so important (and you most likely are), let me give you a few examples of how this can affect your life as a student and what to do if this happens to you.
Having the grant reduced from R595 to R350 is good news because we all need money. In other words, SASSA beneficiaries cannot have more than R350 in their accounts per month. They are considered to be “too rich” for the COVID-19 SRD grant if they have more than R350 in their bank account. This leads to SASSA automatically disqualifying the grant beneficiary. As a result of this change, fraud will be prevented and our economy will be safeguarded.
Black Sash has filed a petition against SASSA
Human rights are one of Black Sash’s main missions, and it is responsible for promoting them in South Africa. Women’s empowerment and gender equality have always been Black Sash’s focuses. The Coalition Against Gender-Based Violence (CALS) is spearheading their lawsuit in the High Court opposing proposed changes to the Gender-Based Violence Act (GBVA).
SRD Application Process
There have been several issues with the current SRD application process since it was implemented. Applicants don’t have to report their income, assets, or dependents exactly as they appear on their declaration. A second issue is that the information they provide in their respective affidavits is not verified or cross-checked; banks do not need to verify a person’s income, and employment verification does not require proof. In addition, SASSA has not provided any explanation for why applications for grants of only R350 are rejected without any explanation.
Black Sash’s report states that 19 people aged 22 to 56 were interviewed over the phone by the agency. Participants also discussed their difficulties receiving SASSA grants while describing the need for SASSA grants. Consumer awareness was low or absent, providers were undercapitalized or underskilled, financial resources were lacking, beneficiaries were not engaged in service delivery or engagement opportunities, there was little awareness of the center/social grant mechanisms, and there was little experience supporting those who were vulnerable or disabled.
South Africans who are struggling to make ends meet will be delighted to hear about the SRD project, which aims to eliminate hunger in the country. First and foremost, they were concerned about those who had been beneficiaries of the program but were unable to take advantage of it due to its limitations. It was pointed out by the participants that the Human Rights Commission found that most beneficiaries do not make use of their grants despite there being no punishment for not using them.
An arrow could have hit the most deserving target with an arrow instead of shooting the clouds with a gun. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) recently amended regulations which are bad news for those seeking financial aid for education. The effects of these amendments will be felt for one and a half years after they were made for providing financial aid to students.
SASSA COVID-19 SRD Grant Monthly Prior
The change in regulations led to more than 16 million families applying for financial aid within three months of the change, implying that the families needed financial assistance before this change. Before the regulatory changes were implemented, more than 15.5 million needy people accessed the SASSA COVID-19 SRD grant each month, but after the changes, fewer than 10 million accessed the grants.
Response from DSD
This petition highlights two fundamental problems that need to be addressed by the Department of Social Development (DSD). SRD grant regulations have been amended to address weaknesses in the first set of new rules. In addition to missed application deadlines and unclear regulations, the court found flaws in the way the grant process is conducted.
- In order to qualify for the COVID-19 SRD, the income amount had to be higher than R350.
- When applying for an SRD grant, bank information is no longer favored over the applicant’s information.
Also, read Sassa Job Vacancies
Legal action against SASSA R350 has been withdrawn by Black Sash
A legal petition filed by Black Sash, the organization representing 21 million South Africans in the economy, has been withdrawn. In the group’s view, granting grants to social enterprises is discriminatory, so they wanted the policy overturned.
A legal action filed by DSD against Black Sash has been withdrawn. As a result of the organization’s actions, the legal application has been withdrawn. Nevertheless, it remains dispiriting that a legal challenge was necessary for DSD to change course and adopt a human rights-based grant program,” said Black Sash CEO Morne du Preez.
Also, read Sassa Online Application For R350
After reversing the decision to discontinue the Sassa R350 grant, the legal action over its withdrawal has ended. In addition to bringing attention to the plight of vulnerable individuals and families who rely on social relief grants, the legal proceedings also sought to challenge the government’s decision to end the grant.
After the Sassa R350 grant was withdrawn, citizens expressed widespread outrage and concern, as it threatened to aggravate the already precarious economic conditions facing many South Africans. As a result of the legal action as well as the collective efforts of advocacy groups, civil society organizations, and individual citizens, the government is now reconsidering its stance due to the legal action.
As a result of this outcome, governments are held accountable for their policies and decisions. Affected communities must be mobilized to bring about change, as well as public pressure.
In spite of the fact that the Sassa R350 grant withdrawal was eventually reversed, it remains vital to remain vigilant and proactive in safeguarding vulnerable populations’ rights. It is particularly important during times of economic hardship for the most marginalized members of society to have social safety nets and comprehensive support systems available to them to ensure peace of mind.
Developing sustainable and inclusive social welfare programs is imperative for governments going forward. So, they can ensure vulnerable families and individuals have access to resources and support needed to live dignified lives.
As a result of the legal action over the withdrawal of Sassa R350 grants, social justice and human rights have been significantly protected. When individuals and communities come together to demand a fairer and more equitable society, it stands as a testament to the power of collective action.
Also, read Unclaimed Funds for Deceased in South Africa