South Africa’s Covid relief grant to be hiked from April

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that the government’s Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant will be hiked by 6% to R370 per month from April – pending approvals to regulations.

Addressing the National Assembly on Wednesday (14 March), Godongwana said that the minister of Social Development would soon be publishing a “comprehensive social security programme” for public comment.

This plan would include regulation changes, among which will be changes to the “new grant” – referring to the R350 SRD grant – and how much it will increase.

“I am pleased to say that, subject to the finalisation of the comprehensive social security plan, we will increase the R350 to R370 by 1 April this year,” he said.

“That is part of the progressive realisation of the basic rights of our people.”

The minister did not specifically mention an increase to the grant in his 21 February budget speech but did allude to “improvements” being made at the start of the new financial year.

“Work is currently underway to improve the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant by April this year. National Treasury will work with the Department of Social Development in ensuring that improvements in this grant are captured in the final regulations,” Godongwana said.

“These improvements will be within the current fiscal framework. For the extension of the grant beyond March 2025, the social security policy reforms, together with the funding source, will be finalised.”

Technically, the SRD grant has not been officially extended beyond March 2025 – however, the National Treasury has provisionally allocated funding for the SRD through March 2027.

The SRD grant is allocated R33.6 billion in 2024/25 with provisional allocations of R35.2 billion and R36.8 billion for the 2025/26 and 2026/27 financial years.

The grant is widely expected to eventually become South Africa’s basic income grant.

President Cyril Ramaphosa previously said that the SRD Grant will be extended and amended to form part of the Basic Income Grant (BIG).

Ramaphosa said that the SRD grant now supports 9 million unemployed people monthly, while fact-checkers say the real number of recipients is closer to 7.7 million.

However, Godongwana has remained coy on how the SRD will be turned into a BIG and on any timelines involved.

Speaking to SABC News this week, the minister said that, if properly managed, South Africa can afford to roll out a basic income grant – but funding remains the big question.