Durban – The Department of Social Development has received more than 7.5 million applications for the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant and dispersed more than R1.2 billion to approved beneficiaries.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said about 7 558 555 applications for the R350 grant had been received of which 4 424 720 had already been approved.
“A total of 2174046 constitutes applications that were found to be active on various databases, including those who are currently receiving social grants, those receiving UIF benefits or appearing on the active database of UIF contributors, those receiving NSFAS stipends and those who are found on government employee databases,” Zulu said.
Zulu said her department acknowledged the public’s frustration with the slow administration and payment of the grant. However, she said the system depended on other stakeholders’ verification of applicants’ information to reduce the margin of error and avoid paying ineligible applicants.
“Given the limited financial resources available, we have to ensure that the money only reaches those who qualify for this support.”
She said 3.4m of the approved applications were paid out as at July 12.
“We have so far disbursed R1 200 432 800. These payments are all for applicants who applied in May.
“Sassa will on a monthly basis reassess all applications to ensure that where circumstances have changed and income is received from any other source, the grant will not continue to be paid,” Zulu said.
She said the reassessment of all applications had already begun in preparation for the batch release of June payments from this week.
She said initial delays in administering the grant had been largely due to the development of the computer system which had been custom made for the grant payments, the need for multiple data verification sources, and applicants’ slow responses to requests to provide banking details.
“Sassa has enhanced its systems to improve the validation processes. A high number of applicants failed the bank accounts verification process largely due to errors in the capturing of banking information and some applicants attempting to use other people’s bank accounts.
“Approximately 123 000 failed bank account verification, which is facilitated through the National Treasury prior to crediting of accounts,” Zulu said.
Regarding the reopening of Early Childhood Development Centres (EDCs), she said that contrary to a media narrative, “we are not opposed to the reopening. Rather, the steps we have taken to date are to ensure that when the sector reopens, parents/caregivers do not have to worry about the health and safety of their children.
“The directions include health and safety guidelines, daily health screening, the use of personal protective equipment, physical distancing and more frequent and rigorous cleaning.”
Zulu said that as of Sunday more than 9 881 ECDs had completed the online self-assessment. An additional 8 751 completed the assessment manually, bringing the total number to 18 632.