Things You Didn’t Know About SASSA Unemployment Relief Fund
Some might be wondering what the SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) relief fund is all about. That’s why we deemed it necessary to detail you on the things you should know about SASSA Unemployment Relief Fund in South Africa. The announcement of this relief fund was made on the 21st of April this year (2020) in order to further curb the effect of the Covid-19 to the vulnerable and unemployed South Africans. According to the President, Cyril Ramaphosa, “This new emergency grant was aimed at people who are currently unemployed and do not receive any other form of social grant or Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payment”. The major expectation here is to get the payment done at the right time, by paying the right people.
There’s one key thing about SASSA Unemployment Relief Fund; there’ll be lots of applications, verification, and payment system to be used, which will prove a bit challenging to SASSA. There’s no doubt that banks, mobile companies, and retails are expected to co-operate well with this payment. And also, there will be a very systematic verification procedure with appropriate data. According to the World Bank, this bold expansion of social grants – costing about 1% of Gross Domestic Product – placed South Africa at the forefront of international responses to Covid-19. While most countries around the world have reformed aspects of their social assistance systems, only ten countries have increased both coverage and benefits. So, therefore, if SASSA does succeed in paying out the new grant, it will initiate a key pillar in South Africa’s efforts to reduce poverty during the lockdown. Now let’s still talk more about SASSA Unemployment Relief Fund.
All You Need to Know About SASSA Unemployment Relief Fund
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has really posed a negative effect on the world’s economy at large, and South Africa is not an exception. Due to the lockdown measures been taken by most countries of the world in order to further curb the spread of the virus, things have not really gone too well to many people especially the low-income earners. This is a result of lots of businesses restricted indefinitely, and many companies even had to lay off some staff in order to still balance their books. This has really affected so many people including South Africans.
Many South Africans who had informal livelihoods have now been without income for almost two months. Many others, who were already unemployed and dependent on others, may also be struggling because the earnings of those on whom they depend have fallen or stopped. South Africa was already experiencing a food crisis before the lockdown, as civil society organizations involved in food supplies have emphasized. Now, these organizations estimate, perhaps half of the South African population needs food parcels – but deliveries are reaching only a small fraction of them. Moreover, millions of children are not receiving school meals, so the actual number of people receiving food is much lower now than it was before the crisis.
Beneficiaries of the SASSA Relief Fund
To qualify for the SASSA Relief Fund, the necessary requirements are needed below:
- Applicants must be South African by Nationality
- Must be above 18 years of age
- Currently unemployed
- The person must not be receiving any income
- Not receiving any social grant
- Not receiving any unemployment benefits and does not qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits.
- Must not be receiving a stipend from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme
- Not residing in a government-funded or subsidized institution.
What are the Requirements?
Applicants are required to provide the necessary information below:
- National Identity Number
- Full Name as it is written in the ID
- Gender and Disability
- Bank details, which comprises Bank Name and Account Number
- Contact details
- Proof of Residential Address
Given the fact that SASSA has about 9,000 employees, several hundred local offices in addition to its national, ‘regional’ (provincial) and district offices, Applicants are therefore required to go to their nearest SASSA office with the required documentation and lodge their application.
In the first quarter of 2019, SASSA received just over 150,000 new applications for social grants per month, most of which were approved quickly. Because the process requires applicants to submit a range of documents, it excludes the significant numbers of potential applicants who cannot access them.
Moreover, SASSA’s local offices – which were closed for the first seven weeks of the lockdown – are now operating with a skeleton staff (in line with social distancing regulations entirely different application process).
- Having received applications, SASSA must verify that the applicants are indeed eligible. The various application mechanisms generate data that should be easy to search electronically. There are six obvious government databases with which applications might be compared. A comparison with SASSA’s own database should reveal whether applicants are receiving any other grant. A comparison with the Home Affairs database (HANIS) will confirm that the applicant is eligible in terms of age and citizenship status. Comparison with the databases of the UIF, Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will reveal whether the applicant gets income from any of these sources. And, finally, comparison with SARS’s database of people registered for tax purposes will reveal if the claimant was until recently informal employment and thus, at least, eligible for UIF support if he or she lost his or her income.
- It has been reported that SASSA has proposed two other verification procedures. First, SASSA considered matching the mobile number provided by an applicant against other government databases as a way of its verification process. According to the report, SASSA confirmed that any applicant who had previously provided one mobile number to an institution such as the SARS or the UIF and applied for the new Covid-19 grant using another different number would be automatically scraped out.
- It was also reported that there would be some kind of check on how many applicants were received from each household. SASSA CEO Memela has said that the new grant would be limited to two people per household. She also said that address details were needed “so that we can get a sense of how many people are applying in one particular homestead because that is going to be critical for us to keep control”.
- The application form for email applications requires that applicants consent to SASSA verifying information not only through other government databases but also through data from financial institutions including “past and present bank accounts, stock holdings and any other financial records relevant to the application”. I imagine that accessing data from banks and other financial institutions could not be done on an automated basis but would need some human oversight, which is likely to be beyond SASSA’s capacity except in a small number of cases.
- On 1 May, SASSA said that the process from application to approval would take two or three working days. In its previous test run, SASSA found that about one in nine Whatsapp app was invalid because the applicant was already receiving other grants. Half the email applications were invalid, although it was not entirely clear why. As early as Thursday 14 May, a SASSA spokesperson reportedly said that as many as 60% of the first one million applications were from people who didn’t qualify, or were duplicates.
Method of Payment
Remember that I told you earlier that “One thing about SASSA Unemployment Relief Fund is that banks, mobile companies, and retails are expected to co-operate well with the payment”.
So, therefore, confirmation was received from the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) prior to the payment cycle. ATMs will be restocked in time for the payment cycle. Banks will also carry messaging reminding customers of priority for older persons and persons with disabilities.
Retail outlets equally confirmed readiness. A list of high volume stores just received and will be shared with NATJOC to assist SANDF and SAPS with support planning.
Also See: About Madagascar Coronavirus Vaccine
SASSA also issues Social Relief of Distress (SRD) in the form of food parcels as a temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such dire need that they are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs. SRD is paid to South African citizens, permanent residents, or refugees who have insufficient means.
SASSA also provided a solution to temporary disability grants which lapsed or expired in March 2020 resulting in some beneficiaries not being paid.
In order to deal with this unintended consequence of the lockdown, SASSA provides social relief of distress in the form of food parcels to beneficiaries whose disability grants expired in April 2020 as an interim measure to cushion the impact of the termination of the grant benefit.
Criteria for those who qualify for the SRD payment are listed below:
- Those receiving temporary disability grants that lapsed in March 2020
- Those who have had disasters in their communities such as floods and fires as defined in the Disaster Management Act, 1978
- If a breadwinner in the family has passed on and application is made within 12 months of the date of death
- If everyone in a household is unemployed and needs government assistance in the form of food parcels
- Child headed household
- If you cannot work for medical reasons for a period of six months
In case of any self-help or online application process, SASSA has provided a Whatsapp platform number (0600 123 456) and an email address via SRD@sassa.gov.za for easy access.