SA weighs changing Covid grant rules to include more people

South Africa already spends 3.3% of gross domestic product on welfare, according to the World Bank.
Image: Bloomberg

South Africa proposed almost doubling the maximum income threshold for poor people to qualify for a monthly stipend to ensure more people have access to it.

In draft regulations published this week, the Department of Social Development recommends that the limit be raised to R624 rand ($36). That’s the nation’s food poverty line, or amount of money a person needs to afford the minimum required daily energy intake, according to the statistics office.

The step comes after more than half of the June applicants for the grant, which the government introduced in 2020 to assist against the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, were denied, the department said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year extended the social distress grant of R350 month until March 2023, as unemployment at record levels deepened poverty, fueling calls for the government to implement a permanent basic income allowance. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world and 14 million people out of a population of 60 million are experiencing food poverty, the World Bank said in an April 2020 report.

South Africa already spends 3.3% of gross domestic product on welfare, according to the World Bank. That’s mostly in the form of child support and pensions and will amount to R248 billion in this fiscal year.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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