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The Department of Social Development is expected to make payments to beneficiaries of the Early Childhood Development Employment – Stimulus Relief Grant (ECD-ESRF) in the first week of March.

Addressing a media briefing on Friday, Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, said her department has received R496 million to assist the sector, as it is amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic.

The department launched the ECD-ESRF on 5 February 2021, which is supported by the Presidential Employment Stimulus initiative. 

“We have now received over 27 000 applications from ECD programmes, with over 117 000 employees recorded. For all ECD programmes that have already applied, we would encourage you to use your reference number in the new web-form to review your application and make sure all the details are correct.

“We also encourage all ECD services that are currently unfunded, not receiving a subsidy from any provincial Department of Social Development and that had to register on the Central Supplier database (CSD) to please ensure that their bank verification has been successful. This is because we will only be able to process applications of applicants who have had successful bank verifications,” the Minister said.

The Minister was briefing members of the media  on various social relief measures that the department is implementing to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable groups.

These measures include the ECD Stimulus Package, and the Special COVID-19 SRD [Social Relief of Distress] Grant.

Zulu also provided progress on the application for and payment of the Temporary Disability Grant, and funding for civil society organisations implementing victim empowerment programmes, amongst others.

Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant

During his State of the Nation Address this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension of the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) grant for a further three months.

The application channels for the website and WhatsApp were reopened on 13 February.

“Since then, a total of 65 795 new applications have been received. The 9.7 million that have already applied will continue to be reassessed monthly, and qualifying applicants will continue to be paid.

“About six million beneficiaries receive this grant on a monthly basis,” the Minister said.

The department has spent over R17 billion thus far on this grant, benefiting those in need of direct income. 

“We anticipate that by the end of the extended period, we would have spent over R22 billion to support this group of beneficiaries,” Zulu said.

Disability grants

The Minister said disability grants are the most vulnerable to fraud.

Eleven people were arrested in Limpopo last week for disability related fraud.

“As at 23 February 2021, a total of 118 581 clients have been booked for assessments, while 79 924 have already completed the assessment process.  From these, 61 955 applications have already been completed,” the Minister said.

Clients whose applications were declined can lodge an appeal against this decision and they can contact South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices for assistance.

“I would like to remind everyone that a temporary disability grant is given for a specific period, which is medically informed.  Therefore, there is genuine expectation that the person who received the grant will not necessarily continue to qualify for this grant. 

“Those who still require the grant need to re-apply and the decision will be made, based on an updated medical assessment and confirmation that the applicant still meets the qualifying criteria, as set in legislation,” Zulu said.

To date, the National Development Agency (NDA) has spent over R21.2 million towards the funding of the Volunteer Programme.

“We have paid stipends to about 2 000 people, who otherwise were not working. We created employment opportunities and training for our volunteers, with the majority of them being young people.

“We think that this is significant, especially in light of the recent unemployment rates, as per the Quarterly Labour Force Survey announced by the Statistician-General earlier this week,” the Minister said.

SAnews.gov.za

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