President Cyril Ramaphosa’s massive R500 billion Coronavirus relief package includes a R50 billion boost for people receiving social grants as well as the introduction of a Social Relief of Distress grant of R350p/m for those who are unemployed and who do not receive any form of grants or UIF payments.
When expanding on the grant top-ups, the president said in his speech: “This means that child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May, and from June to October they will receive an additional R500 each month. All other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 per month for the next six months.”
From this, many assumed that it would mean that each child would receive R300 on top of the normal R440 for May and then R500 on top of the R440 for each child from June to October.
This is not the case. Sassa has subsequently clarified the issue and explained that the R300 in May is per child, but the additional R500 from June is not per child, but rather per caregiver, regardless of the number of children.
For example, if you are receiving grants for two children it will work like this:
Month 1 (May) R440 + R300 = R740 per child.
R740 x 2 children = R1480 is what you will get.
Months 2-6 (June-Oct) R440 + R440 = R880 for two children plus R500 = R1380 is what you will get.
So from June, caregivers will get R500 extra per month, whether you are receiving grants for one child or five children.
All other grants, including grants for older persons (including the war veterans), persons with disabilities, foster child grants and care dependency grants will increase by R250 per month for a six-month period from May 2020 to October 2020.
SOCIAL RELIEF OR DISTRESS GRANT FOR THE UNEMPLOYED:
As per the president’s announcement, jobless South Africans are to receive a total of R2100 per person over the six-month period.
The special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 a month will be paid to people who are currently unemployed and who do not receive any other form of a social grant or UIF payment.
Sassa will do the necessary checks, and screen all applicants against databases of SARS, UIF and NSFAS to see if you qualify for this relief grant.
Last week, Sassa CEO, Busisiwe “Totsie” Memela, made some points to the media about this special grant:
PAYOUT PLAN: Sassa’s CEO Busisiwe Memela
People will be using an SSD or WhatsApp process to register (the WhatsApp will be announced this week).
You are going to be able to indicate things like “I’m not employed”, “I’m not getting NSFAS” , “I’m not getting UIF “, “I am a South African” etc.
The system will then automatically say whether you qualify or not - and then the processing of your payment will start.
Foreign nationals (with legal papers to be in South Africa) and registered refugees who are not getting any grants or UIF will qualify.
Self-employed people who were not part of the UIF system, but who are not earning any money now, and who are not getting any other grants, also qualify.
Sassa hopes to start payments by the beginning of May.
Once you have been processed, Sassa will pay at that time. You won’t have to wait until month-end.
Three possible processes are going to be used for payment namely: e- voucher, mobile money transfer, or bank transfer if you have a bank account.
When people heard that the grants will be paid through Sassa, the first thing they did (and rightfully so) was to try and contact them.
That has proven to be very difficult.
Sassa offices are currently closed during the lockdown.
Many people only discovered this after making their way there.
There is a toll free number that you can call, but you get put on hold for very long periods of time, as the lines are all busy.
When calling the Western Cape number for Sassa, they tell you that the call centre is unmanned, but that they will get back to you within 24 hours.
I called five days ago - I am still waiting. People are frustrated, confused and hungry.
It’s been nearly a week and we still don’t have the details of how exactly to apply for this special unemployment grant.
It doesn’t help that money is available to us, but we have no idea of how to access it.
Logistics should have been thought of and implemented before the announcement.
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Moeshfieka Botha is Head of Research and Consumer Education at National Debt Advisors.
For more debt and personal finance information visit www.nationaldebtadvisors.co.za.