Due to the level of unemployment and poverty within municipal areas, there are both households and citizens who are unable to access or pay for basic services; this grouping is referred to as the “indigent”. Municipalities develop and adopt indigent policies to ensure that the indigent can have access to the package of services included in the Free Basic Services (FBS programme).
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 to qualify for indigent status.
Free basic service is defined as the minimum amount of basic levels of services, provided on a day to day basis, sufficient to cover or cater for the basic needs of the poor households. Child-headed households and households without access to FBS infrastructure are always regarded as indigents.
Municipalities have different methods to identify indigents however the following are the most commonly used methods:
Stats SA’s most recent release of its Non-financial census of municipalities report shows an increase in the number of indigent households across the country. South Africa’s 278 municipalities registered 3,56 million indigent households in 2016, the highest number on record since figures were first published by Stats SA in 2004.
To put it into perspective, 2 in every 10 households in South Africa were classified as indigent in 2016.
Municipalities adopt indigent support programmes to ensure that poor households that are unable to pay for certain basic services, have access to water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal. Households can apply for indigent status with their respective municipalities. If a household’s application is successful – if it meets specific criteria – then it receives services for free or at greatly-reduced rates.Dracore provides Indigent Assessments as well as Indigent Reports to its clients.