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How are indigent households identified?

The National Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) answers the question. 

A free basic service (FSB) is defined as the minimum amount of basic services, provided on a day to day basis, sufficient to cover or cater for the basic needs of poor households. Various sector departments have set minimum standards outlining basic amounts of services or quantity to be supplied to indigents with regard to water, energy, sanitation and refuse removal.

Who qualifies for FBS?

Only indigent households qualify for FBS and the programme is solely intended to assist them. Municipalities subject all applications to means tests to determine whether households applying meet the criteria set by their municipality qualify for indigent status. There are different categories of subsidies as set out by the various indigent by-laws/policies of municipalities. In some municipalities, households qualify for 100% subsidies while other qualify for less that 100% depending on the criteria set.

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Photo: Ashraf Hendricks for GroundUp, licenced under CC BY - ND 4.0


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Sharing the common goal of promoting participatory, effective, accountable and pro-poor local governance, the network strives to provide an interface for civil society organisations to network and share information towards strengthening local democracy in South Africa.