The government has allocated R6.8 billion to the Department of Social Development in prioritising the social relief of distress grant, which has been extended until January next year.
The medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) tabled by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday listed social development as one of the government’s expenditure priorities.
With 2.2 million people having lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has prioritised social development as it includes programmes aimed at income protection, social welfare and reducing poverty.
“To continue mitigating food insecurity and poverty, an additional R6.8 billion is allocated to the Department of Social Development to extend the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant for three months until 31 January 2021,” the policy statement said.
An additional R1 billion has been allocated for food relief to vulnerable households.
This means short-term social grant relief amounts to a total of R48 billion for the 2020-21 financial year as more than 12 million new beneficiaries receive relief grants and income protection.
“Implementation of the special grant shows the need for measures to cross-check applicants across databases, such as common social security registries. The sector will be supported from October 2020 to March 2021 through the presidential employment interventions.”
While the June 2020 special adjustment budget made provisions for R40 billion in temporary unemployment relief fund, R47.4 billion had been paid by the end of September to 10.6 million beneficiaries from more than 931 000 employers through the temporary employer/employee relief scheme.
The Reserve Bank also provided support to households and companies by lowering the repo interest rate by 2.75% since March 2020. It is now 3.5%.