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Budget constraints subject all Sassa grant applicants to means test


| Breakfast show host Refilwe Moloto interviews Sassa executive Brendon van Vrede on the recent findings by Stats SA that 25% of the country’s citizens depend on state grants.

Research from Statistics South Africa’s (StatsSA) General Household Survey has shown that one in four South Africans relies on the South African State Security Agency (Sassa) for survival.

Last week, Sassa reported that it had cleared 750,000 claims for the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant – with more expected to be processed.

The agency also put in place a means test for the SRD grant, which has caught the attention of civil society groups.

A number of civil society organisations, including human rights advocacy group Black Sash, have criticised the new qualifying criteria.

Breakfast show host Refilwe Moloto interviews Sassa executive Brendon van Vrede on the recent findings by Stats SA that 25% of the country’s citizens depend on state grants.

Black Sash, however, said Sassa’s means test to access the SRD grant was unfair and they were pursuing legal action against it.

But van Vrede explained that, at first, the means test was for reconsidering appeals and it was done on a very small scale.

He added that for the first time, the agency had implemented a means test for all applicants.

There’s this argument that we reduced the means test, we didn’t reduce the means test this is the first time we’re actually implementing a means test for all the applicants.

Brendon Van Vrede, Sassa executive manager for grants

He agrees that the means test has excluded quite a lot of people.

However, the implementation of the recent test was motivated by the influx of applicants and the budget made available for the SRD grants, says van Vrede.

We estimated that if we put the means test at the food poverty line, we’d have 18 million people qualifying and we only have a budget for 10 million people. We had to find a way to ration that.

Brendon Van Vrede, Sassa executive manager for grants

SRD grant payments have commenced for June, while the April and May backlog will be cleared in July and August, says van Vrede.

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Budget constraints subject all Sassa grant applicants to means test

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