The Efficacy of Government Entitlements in Helping BPL Families Navigate the Financial Impacts of COVID-19

Dalberg Advisors

Dalberg is leading a rapid, multi-round study across 10 states to capture the cumulative efficacy of government entitlements in helping BPL families navigate the financial impacts of COVID-19. Dalberg is studying select entitlements that are offering top-ups or advance payments during the Covid-19 crisis. They span three types of entitlements: free food rations, free LPG cylinders, and cash transfers. The preliminary results presented here are based on unweighted data of a partial survey sample of 6,915 households and 20 qualitative interviews.


Financial impact • The average BPL household will lose 61% of their regular income in April • 45% of BPL households were expecting to lose 75% or more of their income • 18% have already run out of money and supplies • Only 6% have received private external support (e.g., remittances, non-profits, religious institutions, etc.) Coverage is strong, but not universal • 97% of households are registered under at least one of the five major schemes (PDS, Jan Dhan, Ujjwala, Social Pension, PM Kisan) • But 14% of households are not eligible for any cash transfers • 52% of people didn’t know or were uncertain about what they are eligible for Relief has started to flow. Based on what has already been rolled out: • 64% of eligible households received some relief • 55% of households with BPL/AAY cards received free rations; one-fifth of households visited a ration shop after 25 March, but did not get free rations • 41% of households have received some cash relief Are people able to access and use their entitlements: • BPL Households that report they could access and use their respective benefits easily: Ration: 46%: Cash: 25%, Buying supplies: 41% • BPL Households that report difficulties: Ration: 17%: Cash: 36%, Buying supplies: 58% • Top challenges for access: Rations: stockouts, Cash: lockdown rules, Buying supplies: lockdown rules, but price hikes and closed shops are also common • Stockouts are more common in rural (31%) than urban (25%) areas Are government entitlements enough?: • Average cash transfer received: INR 1,082 per bpl household (among those who received a transfer) • Reported to cover 41% of monthly expenses on essentials • 2/3 of households will run out of money and supplies within 2 weeks, including those who have received relief
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