On 1 October 2021, we launched a survey to gather the necessary evidence to expose the main problems and show SASSA that they must act.
Some of our key findings from our R350 grant survey:
- More than half of those who applied for the R350 grant were unsuccessful. The majority had their application rejected or could not send their application due to technical issues with SASSA’s system.
- 24% of people said no one answered when they called the SASSA number.
- Nearly 40% of people said they had to find or borrow money for airtime or data just to apply.
- 44% of unemployed caregivers said SASSA rejected their application due to UIF.
- Many people who are unemployed have had their R350 applications unfairly rejected.
One unemployed caregiver who applied for the R350 grant claimed that:
“[SASSA] said I’ve received UIF, but I’ve never worked in my life and have no SARS number or UIF.”*
When asked what was their message to the SASSA CEO and Minister of Social Development, one applicant said:
“Answer our calls because that is the easiest way to communicate with them. If they are short of staff, they should hire people so that the process can be quick. It’s not fair to wait for three months and sometimes come back with the same results.”
Many amandla.mobi members helped put pressure on President Ramaphosa to bring back the R350 grant and at least include unemployed caregivers. This has been a step in the right direction. But not only were our demands to increase and expand the grant ignored, many members of the amandla.mobi community have reported problems applying for the R350 grant.
- The grant application process is not accessible, and it’s difficult to get information or assistance from SASSA.
Many people shared how they had to go as far as borrowing money just to apply for the grant or collect it. Nearly one in four people said that when they called SASSA, no one answered. A small percentage of the respondents shared that a language barrier was also a problem for them and even meant that they could not get any assistance when seeking help from SASSA.
Graph 1: The above graph outlines the most common barriers people faced before they even tried submitting their applications.
- There is a high rate of rejection, especially for caregivers.
For those who can overcome the above barriers, the below graph shows that most applicants are either rejected or could not even submit their applications due to technical problems with SASSA’s system.
Graph 2: The above graph shows survey responses to the question, “Have you been able to apply for the R350 grant since it was brought back and started paying recipients since August 2021?”
The above picture is not good, but it is even worse for unemployed caregivers. When we compare graph 2 above with graph 3 below, the survey data suggests unemployed caregivers had even higher rejection rates and lower rates of success.
Graph 3: The above graph shows the R350 application rejection and success rates for only those who completed the survey and stated they were an unemployed caregiver who was receiving the child support grant on behalf of a child.
- Grant applicants and recipients share their experiences and suggestions
Over 50% of those who had access to resources such as the internet or a smartphone could visit the SASSA website. The site is allegedly now zero-rated. Others used WhatsApp and the SASSA Facebook page for information. Many of those who called the SASSA call centre did not get much help. Asked to share some of their experiences while trying to access the grant, some respondents said the following:
“I needed help, but no one would answer the phone.”
“They sent me SMS every month to say my application was unsuccessful because of UIF.”
“Not even reply to email sent.”
The most used method to apply for the grant was via the SASSA website and WhatsApp. 8% of the respondents tried the USSD code but found it was not functional. Asked to share the challenges they faced while using the different applying methods, some said:
“Website was easy, but trying to get a non-robot to assist was a mission.”
The respondents also shared some messages and suggestions for SASSA and the Department of Social Development (DSD) to improve the R350 grant system. Here’s what some had to say:
“To open more mobile SASSA offices.”
“To keep their promises🙏🏿. Give us the unemployed the money and must not choose but give us all.”
“They must improve their verification system to a faster type because everything takes too long.”
“Stop using data when applying. We don’t have money.”
“Pay more attention to other applications and their problems, especially the people that are stated to be receiving UIF when they are not.”
“Simplify the application process. Increase server capacity. Respond to queries and appeals timeously.”
- So, what can SASSA and the Department of Social Development (DSD) do differently?
For months, R350 grant applicants and recipients have been demanding that SASSA fix the flaws with the grant system. This is a matter of surviving for many people in Mzansi, and these demands cannot fall on deaf ears any longer. People are struggling enough as it is, without having to deal with SASSA’s system, which takes time, energy and even money to access, get information and help.
SASSA and the Department of Social Development must:
- Make the R350 grant system more efficient and user friendly, both online and offline.
- Have consistent payout dates.
- Improve communication with grant recipients/beneficiaries.
- Create friendly and accessible alternatives for those who cannot apply online or access SASSA offices.
- Improve language usage for non-English speaking people.
- Hire staff and improve the efficiency of the SASSA call centre.
- Automatically provide unemployed caregivers with the R350 grant, without them having to apply for the R350. Or at the very least, prioritise reviewing the appeals of unemployed caregivers.
- Work with SARS and the Department of Labour to improve IRP5 and UIF databases used for means tests to determine who qualifies for the grant.
Furthermore, SASSA and the Department of Social Development must:
- Support extending the grant beyond March 2022 and increasing it to beyond the upper-bound poverty line.
- Support keeping the grant until it is turned into Basic Income Support.
- Support giving the grant to not just unemployed caregivers, but ALL caregivers receiving the Child Support Grant.
- Support increasing all other grants to help balance the SRD grant.
*Please note that all quotes have been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Technical note: The above results are mostly drawn from the results of our R350 grant survey, which is still live and can be found here: https://amandla.mobi/350-survey/. For the latest and most up to date figures, view the survey results page here https://amandlamobi.typeform.com/report/gxz4Fdg1/SwrwAfins27rAdbw. The survey results should refresh at least once a week to show new responses as more people complete the surveys. Please note that the data on unemployed caregivers who applied for the R350 grant, now that they are included in the eligibility criteria, was drawn from disaggregated data from our other social grants survey, which is also still live and can be found here: https://amandla.mobi/grant-survey/. The latest live results of that survey can be found here. The survey could be completed via our mobi site, but we also provided methods of completing the survey through mobile for those with no data or even airtime. Please note that we only had technical capacity to publish generic survey results, and that the above data on unemployed caregivers was specifically disaggregated and analysed manually. The same applies to the UIF survey responses. The manually analysed data is not live and was taken from the data set as of 3 December 2021. We are a small organisation with limited capacity and funding. However, if you would like to request more up-to-date data or offer research methodology suggestions, do feel free to contact us at hola (at) amandla.mobi, and we will do our best to respond to you.