Here’s how government’s unemployment relief fund is reaching people around South Africa

As expected, Gauteng had the highest number of beneficiaries who have been paid Covid-19 TERS (temporary employers relief scheme) benefits. Almost half of the more than R14 billion paid out so far, has been paid to 1 186 833 workers in the province via 79,271 employers.

The second province is the Western Cape with R2.3 billion disbursed to date, to 429,793 workers represented by 38,486 employers.

KwaZulu-Natal is the third largest recipient with over R2.1 billion paid there to 409,775 workers as claimed by 29,988 employers while fourth spot is the Eastern Cape with R782 million distributed to 146,189 workers in the province represented by 13,163 employers.

They are closely followed by:

  • Mpumalanga with 145,046 workers represented by 10,991 employers being handed R760 million in cash benefits;
  • Free State with 90,553 workers represented by 10,240 employers who in total claimed R477-million;
  • Limpopo with 73,001 workers getting their share via 6,993 employers totalling R372 million;
  • North West, with R93 million distributed there for 69,041 workers who had their applications submitted by 6,536 employers; and
  • Northern Cape, with the least number of claimants with R140 million paid to the province for 25,155 workers represented by 2,972 employers.

The Department for Employment and Labour said that more people are being paid directly even though the claims are submitted by the employers. To date, 78,431 workers have been paid directly a total of R350 million, and they are represented by 5,975 employers.

According to the employment commissioner, employers still have until the end of May to address queries where the UIF has reverted to them with regard to incomplete information. This has resulted with the UIF holding back close to R2.5 billion for 569,418 workers.

These claims have been lodged by 78,831 employers.

Small business claims

The Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) meanwhile, says it has approved payment worth R513 million for small businesses whose finances have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since the opening of Small, Medium and Macro Enterprises (SMMEs) Debt Relief Financing Scheme, Sefa has received 35,865 applications of which 14,451 were fully completed whereas 21,414 were incomplete and they were referred to Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) for assistance with the applications,” the Department of Small Business Development said on Friday.

Of the 14,451 complete applications, Sefa has approved 1,497 applications worth R513 million – an average of around R342,000.

This scheme, which opened for applications in April, was initially allocated an amount of R200 million and later increased to R500 million, when the department changed its approach to the Business Growth and Resilience Facility, the department said.

The aim of the scheme is to assist SMMEs with working capital as economic activities have been negatively affected by Covid-19.

The elements of working capital covered through the scheme are:

  • Payroll assistance – assists employers whose employees do not qualify for UIF Relief, on condition that those employers register their employees with UIF;
  • Rental assistance (facility or equipment) – assists businesses to pay their rental obligations for either working tools or facilities/ business premises. In case, facilities rentals – there is potential for landlords to double dip from banks rescheduling of mortgage repayments whilst collecting rent from their tenants; and
  • Utilities – to assist with municipal bills.

According to Sefa’s assessment, the balance of the 12,954 complete applications require an estimated budget of R4.4 billion but a bulk of the applications require assistance with payment of salaries to the total value of R3.6 billion.

“In this regard, the department has entered into agreement with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to ensure that SMMEs that previously did not qualify due to non-compliance can be covered by the UIF, provided they agree to an acknowledgement of debt as well as payment terms with the UIF.

“Furthermore, this agreement ensures that SMMEs that had already applied for payroll assistance through the SMME Debt Relief Finance Scheme do not need to re-apply with the UIF but their applications will be forwarded directly to the UIF,” the department said.

The assessment has also indicated that applications for a total value of R800 million are from business – that if supported to get back to work, they will be able to meet their own financial obligations.

Read: South Africa’s lockdown has served its purpose and it’s now time to open the economy: government

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Here’s how government’s unemployment relief fund is reaching people around South Africa