Half Of South African Households Receive A Sassa Grant

Millions of individuals rely on social grants in South Africa. According to the latest General Household Survey by StatsSA, there has been a significant increase in the uptake of social grants over the past 20 years.

Almost 40% of households in South Africa receive a grant payment from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). This is according to Statistics South Africa’s (StatsSA) 2023 general household survey

Sassa distributes approximately 19 million permanent grants monthly including   Older Persons pension grants, Disability grants, War Veterans grants, Care Dependency grants, Foster Child grants, Child Support grants, Child Support grant Top-Up and Grant-in-aid.

StatsSA’s survey revealed that the dependence on social grants in South Africa has risen dramatically in recent years, with nearly 40% of the population now benefiting from some form of government assistance.

The General Household Survey indicated that in 2003, only 12.8% of individuals received grants. This number climbed steadily to around 31% between 2017 and 2019, before a sharp rise to 39.4% in 2023.  The introduction of the temporary Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant in 2020 is credited with the sharp increase in grant beneficiaries in the country.

Households receiving at least one grant followed a similar trend, rising from 30.8% in 2003 to 52.4% in 2020, before dipping slightly to 50% in 2023. 

Provinces with the highest poverty rates see the most significant dependence on grants. The combined proportion of individuals and households receiving grants jumped from 12.8% in 2003 to 39.4% in 2023, with the introduction of the SRD grant playing a key role.

The survey also revealed a disparity in grant dependence between metropolitan areas. In 2023, only 27.8% of individuals in metros received grants compared to 39.4% nationally. Mangaung, Buffalo City, and Nelson Mandela Bay had the highest individual grant receipt rates, while Cape Town, Tshwane, and Ekurhuleni had the lowest. 

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A similar pattern was reported for households, with Mangaung and Buffalo City showing the highest grant dependency and Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Cape Town showing the least.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns diminished the ability of unemployed people to fund work. To address this, the SRD grant was launched in 2020, specifically targeting those aged 18-59. The programme’s reach has grown significantly, with recipients in this age group rising from 5.3% in 2020 to 12.4% in 2023. 

Uptake of the SRD grant was highest in Limpopo and North West, while Western Cape, Gauteng, and Northern Cape had the least amount of SRD grant recipients. 

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