/ 12 May 2008

Govt sets aside millions of rands to help poor

The government has set aside millions of rands to assist the poor cope with harsh economic conditions, the Department of Social Development said on Monday.

”The Minister of Social Development, Dr Zola Skweyiya, today announced the allocation of R124-million to the South African Social Security Agency and to provincial departments of social development to provide relief to households or individuals facing hardship,” the department said in a statement.

The Social Relief of Distress allocation, intended to assist those in dire material need, was a temporary relief lasting for three to six months.

People who are either medically unfit or whose social grants applications were still being considered, would be amongst the first to benefit.

Beneficiaries who would receive assistance in the form of either food parcels or vouchers would be assessed by social workers prior to receiving any aid.

Skweyiya appealed to churches and community-based organisations to help the department in creating awareness around the relief.

”We request civil society and faith-based organisations to assist us in raising awareness of this form of assistance.

”We have relied a lot on church groups in the past to assist people to apply for social grants and other forms of assistance and they can be of great help to us at this moment as well,” he said.

The R124-million allocation was for the 2008/09 financial year. — Sapa