She added: “From our rapid assessment study, we found that around 88% of recipients of the Covid-19 SRD grant pooled the grant with their other household incomes to take care of the needs of everyone in the household; thereby confirming that the reach of the grant to reduce poverty thus goes far beyond just the recipient.

“It is estimated that between the child support grant caregivers allowance and the Covid-19 SRD grant of R350, about 36 million individuals benefited from these both directly and indirectly.”

Zulu said surveys show the grant was mainly used to buy food.

“This triangulates well with other research indicating that hunger declined during the period May to October 2020 when the relief package was at its maximum level and then increased from November onwards when part of the relief package, and notably the caregivers allowance, was withdrawn,” said Zulu.

“It is expected that with the withdrawal of the last portion of the relief package, whilst in the third wave of the pandemic, more households and individuals will become vulnerable to hunger.”

Zulu added that research findings by The National Income Dynamics Study — Coronavirus Mobile Survey, 2020 (NIDS CRAM) confirmed that the special Covid-19 grant “has brought millions of previously unreached individuals into the system, and application for and receipt of the grant has been relatively poor”.

She said the department’s rapid assessment study further confirmed that “not only were we able to prevent further deepening of food poverty but also decrease this from 20.6% to 18.8%”.

“Comprehensive social security helps protect people from economic shocks by operating as an automatic stabiliser that is built into the tax-benefit system, and there is an urgent need to establish social assistance for poor people of working age, as a permanent rather than temporary feature of the system.”

TimesLIVE

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