Poor households are increasingly squeezed for survival, having to cut back on other basic essential needs as astronomical transport and electricity costs gobble up more than half their monthly income.
According to a study conducted in a low-income area of Pietermaritzburg, KZN, which researchers say most likely represent a nationwide trend, after paying for transport and electricity households were on average left with just R1,249.48 for all other essential household expenses.
The results of the August 2019 Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group’s Household Affordability Index released yesterday shows that transport and electricity takes up to 58.7% of the August National Minimum Wage (exemption level) of R3,024, with taxi fares increasing by 7.7% and electricity by 13.07.
The study reveals that in August the typical transport cost for a low-paid worker in Pietermaritzburg was R1,176 per month and electricity was R598.52 per month (total = R1 774.52).
Domestic worker and mother of four, Thandiwe Ngwenya, is feeling the pinch, with R1,200 of her R3,800 monthly salary going to the costs of her commuting daily between Moreleta Park in Pretoria and Sun City township in Mpumalanga, about 70km northeast of Pretoria.
Her monthly electricity costs have more than doubled from about R400 in August last year to more than R800 this year.
“So, more than half of my salary goes to these two expenses,” she said.
Mervyn Abrahams, the programme director, said their data shows that families were underspending on proper nutritious food by 24% at the very best-case scenario, and that the Child Support Grant of R420, which should ensure children were properly fed, was set at about 25% below the food poverty line of R561.
- Month-on-month: The cost of the household food basket increased by R9,60 (0,3%) to R3 067,52 in August 2019.
- Year-on-year: The cost increased by R57,87 (1.9%) from R3 009,65 in August 2018 to R3 067,52 in August 2019.
- Month-on-month: The foods subject to VAT increased by R56,34 (3.4%) to R1 700,35 in August 2019.
- Year-on-year: The foods subject to VAT increased by R117,74 (7.4%) from R1 582,61 in August 2018 to R1 700,35 in August 2019.
- Month-on-month: The cost of domestic and personal hygiene products basket increased by R12.15 (1.9%) to R640,97 in August 2019.
- Year-on-year: The cost of the domestic and personal hygiene products basket increased by R3,72 (0.6%) from R637,25 in August 2018 to R640,97 in August 2019.