Provincial Notices

Reading on a Basic Income Grant


Commissioned by the Black Sash

(Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, after attending a webinar on this subject, recommends this paper as informative.)

Executive Summary

The Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (Covid-19 SRD) was introduced in South Africa in May 2020 to mitigate the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It provided for people between 18 and 59 years of age, who had no income nor access to any other form of social assistance.

This was an unprecedented moment in the history of social security in South Africa, initiated under enormous pressure in a remarkably short space of time. It drew people who had previously been excluded from the social grant programme, namely those aged 18 to 59 years, into the social protection network, creating a platform for Basic Income Support in the future.

And yet, the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant was not perfect. The R350 amount was not linked to an objective measure of poverty, and fell well below the food poverty line (R585). There were also many challenges of exclusions and inequitable access, particularly for women, foreign nationals, and people living in rural areas. This qualitative study, conducted in all nine provinces, has sought to understand how the Covid-19 SRD Grant was distributed and how people experienced its distribution. We hope these consolidated learnings inform the development and implementation of Basic Income Support in the near future.

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