Cri­sis deep­ens — 56% liv­ing on less than R41 a day

The Witness - - NEWS -

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.

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