'R350 grant must be increased!'

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The Socio-Economic Rights Institute wants the grant to be extended beyond 2024.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute wants the grant to be extended beyond 2024.

THE Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) has urged the government to extend and increase the R350 grant.

The civil organisation made a submission to the Department of Social Development (DSD) on Tuesday, 14 March, asking for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to be extended beyond 2024. 

The department is amending the regulations relating to the grant in terms of the Social Assistance Act, but the amendments are limited to changing the expiry date of the grant, from March 2023 to March 2024.

SERI said it was concerned that the extension was limited to twelve months.

"We welcome its extension. However, we are deeply concerned that the extension is limited to twelve months,” the statement read.

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“This, alongside the fact that there is no allocation to fund the grant after March 2024 in the tabled 2023/24 National Budget, signals a possible intention to withdraw the grant in a year’s time," the organisation said.

SERI said it was not happy with the government's handling of this "critically important grant" and the failure of the regulations to address systemic issues which civil society has repeatedly raised over the past year.

The organisation said R350 a month was not enough to improve the lives of poor people.

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"In the context of a skyrocketing cost of living for the poorest households with food inflation at 13,4% in January 2023, the removal of the SRD grant will worsen already alarming levels of food insecurity," said SERI.

In March 2022, about 10,9 million people relied on the grant to survive but that number decreased the following month after the government introduced new regulations.

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