‘It has increased sharply’ – How many South Africans receive social grants?

The total number of South Africans receiving permanent social grants from SASSA has increased six-fold over the past 25 years. That’s according to figures released by the Social Development Department, after the DA raised the issue in a set of Parliamentary questions. The totals, when analysed fully, make for a sobering read.

How many people receive social grants in South Africa?

It’s estimated that roughly one in three citizens rely on some type of social grant to survive. The figures have somewhat plateaued over the past decade – but since the turn of the century, the number of people receiving payments from SASSA has only had one annual decline. Even that was marginal…

  • Around 31% of South Africans rely on permanent grants every month to make ends meet.
  • That means more than 18 million people receive some form of permanent grant payment.
  • This figure was just 7% in 1996 and reached 20% in 2005.
  • Since 2011, the number has always hovered above the 30% mark.
  • These figures don’t include temporary R350 grant recipients – about seven million citizens got an SRD payout in 2020.
8bd55951 sassa social grant stats - ‘It has increased sharply’ – How many South Africans receive social grants?
Figures provided by the Department of Social Development provide a rolling total of social grant recipients over the past 25 years – Photo: Supplied

‘The government does not care’ – DA on SASSA figures

Bridgette Masango is the DA’s shadow minister for Social Development. She has wasted little time on pinning this stagnation on ANC policy, blaming the government for ‘impoverishing’ its people before a pandemic even had the chance:

“The only worthwhile conclusion that can be drawn is that South Africans are increasingly going into poverty due to a failing ANC government and its policies. The data clearly indicates that the ANC government and its policies have had an active hand in impoverishing South Africans long before global economic implosions, State Capture or COVID-19 did.”

“These policies and strategies – often hailed as economic saviors that will invigorate the economy and provide jobs aplenty – serve only the corrupt and politically connected. The callous way South Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable are being treated, proves that the only interest the government has regarding the poor, are their votes.”

Bridgette Masango

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