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Almost 19 million people in South Africa currently live on permanent government social assistance, which comes at a cost to the taxpayer of more than R200 billion annually.
Furthermore, the R350 COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) award is being received by an average of 8.5 million beneficiaries, resulting in an expenditure of R30.2 billion for the 2022–2023 fiscal year.
The R350 grant recipients are not always paid on time each month, and in some cases, they are not paid at all; hence, the overall cost may be much higher.
Approximately 45% of the nation’s population, or over 27 million beneficiaries, receive monthly benefits from the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa).
These numbers were revealed on Wednesday at a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, which examined the Department of Social Development and its connected institutions’ annual reports.
According to Linton Mchunu, director-general of the department, they are extending their services to include the elderly, victims of gender-based violence, persons with disabilities, and those severely affected by COVID-19.
The number of social grants in payment increased from 18 677 339 at the end of March 2022 to 18 829 716 at the end of March 2023.
A total of R239 billion was made available to Sassa for the payment of social grants between April 2022 to March 2023.
He said that there were plans for a basic income support programme for people in the 18 to 59 age group.
After reviewing and finalising it, stakeholder meetings were held.
Mchunu announced the compilation of a consultation report.
According to Sassa, the overall number of beneficiaries paid across all payment platforms increased by 91,090 over the 12 months.
Alexander Abrahams of the Democratic Alliance noted that a sizable portion of the department’s funding went towards social programmes.