Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says her department has received widespread support during consultations with various stakeholders for the introduction of a basic income grant (BIG) policy for South Africans in need and unemployed.

The minister participated in a debate in National Assembly on Thursday on the BIG.

She said her department was finalising its proposals, including financing options and implementation pathways in the coming financial year, following which they would seek Cabinet approval of the necessary legislative processes.

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In May last year, government started disbursing payments of the R350 Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant targeted at unemployed adults aged between 18 and 59. The grant, which is administered by the South African Social Security Agency, was extended by a further three months this year due to socioeconomic challenges caused by lockdown regulations.

Zulu said the grant had reached an average of six million adults per month who would otherwise have had no other means of survival.

“Given that these were all new applicants who did not have access to a grant before, this is a major achievement which has demonstrated our capability to implement income support on a larger scale,” Zulu said.

“The department has received widespread support for the BIG policy during the consultations with various stakeholders from academia, civil society and organised labour since we began consultations in 2020. The determination of the appropriate path is a mammoth task that requires us to combine the lessons we have learned at home with international best practices to come up with creative ways to chart a pathway for our own country.”

Zulu said her department’s approach was to ensure that they link the income support to developmental opportunities that enable citizens to access skills training, work opportunities and other developmental initiatives to put them on a sustainable path out of poverty.

“Our ongoing consultation processes seek consensus on a social compact with the sector, government, organised labour, community and business constituencies for the implementation of a sound BIG policy that all South Africans can rally behind.”

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