South Africa's Special COVID-19 Grant: A Brief Assessment of Coverage and Expenditure Dynamics

In response to the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African government expanded its system of social assistance through a short-term 6-month heterogeneous increase in all existing social grants. In addition though, the state introduced a special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, set at R350 per month. In this brief, we analyse aggregated administrative data provided by the National Treasury on applications, coverage, and expenditure of the COVID-19 grant over the last six months, and provide estimates on the expected coverage and cost of its 3-month extension. We disaggregate our analysis into two sections. The first considers the ‘Current’ period, which covers the period May to September 2020. We exclude October from this period given that, at the time of writing, the data was not yet available. We then consider coverage and cost implications for the ‘Future’ period, to account for the 3-month extension of the grant to January 2021, inclusive of October 2020.