Crisis deepens — 56% living on less than R41 a day
THE affordability crisis faced by poor South African households continues to deepen with many struggling to even put food on the table.
According to Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity’s (EJD) latest Household Affordability Index for September, more than half of people are living on less than R1 230 a month.
The report said that a quarter of the population, approximately 13,8 million people, are living on less than R19 a day, while 56% are living on less than R41 a day.
The group said: “Affordability, in its simplest form, is relative to income levels and the cost of expenses. Workers work to support their families. Workers reasonably expect to cover the costs of goods and services needed for dignity and household functionality off their wages.
“In most black South African households, only one family member works.
“This one wage must support a reductive average of 3,9 persons in September 2019.”
The baseline wages paid to most black South African workers are very low. Divided by four people, the wage becomes a poverty wage.
The National Minimum Wage, which came into effect on January 1, 2019, set at R20 an hour for general workers, R18 for farmworkers and R15 for domestic workers, is not going to be enough to change the low-wage trajectory.
The report said that these figures are alarming considering the rising costs of food and household items in South Africa.
EJD’s Index said the cost of the food basket for a family of seven has increased by R59,69 from R3 067,52 in August to R3 127,21 in September 2019.
The report said that in September, the child support grant was set 25% below the food poverty line and 26% below the cost of securing a basic nutritious diet for a child aged 10-13 years. The R420 child support grant could not cover a basic nutritious diet per month, which costs about R569,86.
While South Africans were struggling to put food on the table, the report also highlighted that the costs of transport to get to work and back home eats away at the value of the low wage.
“Prepaid electricity costs, water and transport have increased since last year, putting more pressure on already low wages.
“These all compete viciously for the money remaining in the household purse,” the report said. — WR.