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Criteria for those in need expanded
02 February 2009

The City has set up Siyasizana, is a basket of social benefits based on an individual's poverty index

Rather than simply looking at a household's income, the City will now be looking at an individual's poverty index when determining who gets social assistance.

Subsidies for water, electricity, transport and rental are available
Subsidies for water, electricity, transport and rental are available

A NEW social benefit package approved by the City of Johannesburg will increase the benefits to poor individuals and the households in which they live, irrespective of whether the person is a property owner, tenant, lodger or even homeless.

Siyasizana, or the Expanded Social Package (ESP), is a basket of benefits which the City will allocate to citizens based on their level of poverty. It replaces the old indigent subsidy system which required individuals to be account holders with the City before they could qualify for social assistance.

Subsidies for water, electricity, transport and rental are available for tenants while indigent property owners can apply for subsidies for rates, sanitation and refuse removal charges. Any person living in Johannesburg and earning less than R3 366 a month should register for Siyasizana.

"From 1 July 2009 people with different levels of need will qualify for different levels of subsidy according to the City's new measure of poverty - the poverty index," the package states.

Register now
The new package will be fully operational by 1 July but individuals should register at one of the 20 registration-only centres in the meantime. All people who qualify - even those who are now on the City's old indigent register - must register by this date to be considered.

People living in special circumstances, such as households with HIV-positive residents or the homeless, should register at one of the 10 customer service centres where there are social workers so that they can be referred to the special needs programmes.

According to Booker Maseti, the acting stakeholder manager for the ESP in the social assistance directorate of the community development department, the City realised the need to diversify its social assistance programme to include categories previously not considered.

"The [previous] criteria were limited. The City [has] diversified the way in which it looks at poverty."

The most important change to the system was that a person no longer needed to be a City account holder to apply for subsidies, Maseti confirmed. And for the first time, homeless people and those without a formal address could also apply for benefits.

These benefits included assistance with rent, transport and in finding employment through the Job Pathways Programme.

For more information, click here.

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