Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says discussions on the mooted Basic Income Grant beyond October are in early stages.

Zulu said this when she briefed members of Parliament in the National Assembly while outlining the department’s budget priorities for the year ahead on Friday.

“As we consider multiple ways to extend the social protection coverage to those aged 18 to 59 years in the period beyond October 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing back the discussion about the Basic Income Grant.

“The lack of social protection coverage for this group calls for an acceleration of efforts to put in place an inclusive and responsive social security system that we envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP),” said the Minister.

She said discussions are currently in the early stages.

“We look forward to working with the members of this House to shine a spotlight on this important issue and thereby advancing solutions to ensure that no one among our people is left behind,” she said.

Zulu’s remarks come on the back of government’s decision to offer citizens social relief in order to weather the unprecedented storm.

Addressing a virtual sitting of the National Assembly, Zulu said Cabinet decided on the R250 emergency top-up for all social security grant types, including the once-off top-up of R350 for the Child Support Grant.

“Likewise, the payment of R500 to primary caregivers of eligible children was approved. These emergency responses represent government’s continued provision of significant relief where and when it is needed most.

“In meaningful ways, these measures are affording beneficiaries a significant amount of dignity and the ability to provide for their families during these times of unprecedented adversities,” she said.

The Minister said that in addition to this, government took a bold policy position of introducing the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant of R350.

“This grant is targeted at providing support to unemployed individuals as well as those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With regard to the Disability Grant, I have directed SASSA to explore ways in which we can safely and progressively reintroduce these services without compromising on the safety and health of both employees and applicants.

“We have contracted 465 doctors across the nine provinces to expedite all outstanding assessments in line with the relevant legislative provisions.

“I am currently considering a further extension to the period for which temporary disability grants will be paid to ease the administrative burden on applicants,” she said. –

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