Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu says there’s been under-expenditure of close to R2 billion on the Social Relief of Distress grant. Zulu says this was caused by the eligibility criteria for confirming bank accounts.
The grant provides monetary assistance to the unemployed who were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the minister, a huge number of applications were excluded due to the inadequate verification of bank accounts.
The Department of Social Development is now saddled with budgetary constraints as it buckles under pressure. It says the demand will not meet supply due to limitations in the fiscus under the current budget.
It appealed for an additional budget in terms of amending the Appropriations Bill approvals. According to the minister, the number of SRD grant beneficiaries are expected to increase from 7 million to over 10. 5 million people.
“I note and share the concerns of the amount of R1.7 billion that was underspent and declared funds for the social distress grant which you have also referred to which is necessarily specific in that this is money that is supposed to support and uplift our people from poverty, unemployment, and inequality. This is particularly so because the department of social development of the pandemic infused poverty for food insecurity, growing unemployment that is worsened by climate change and disasters and unbearable cost of living,” says Zulu.