Here’s how household budgets have changed as South Africans struggle to pay their bills

 ·20 Jul 2020

Credit bureau TransUnion has published a new report showing how the Covid-19 pandemic, and resulting lockdown continues to impact the financial position of South Africans, and their ability to pay bills.

The report is based on a survey of 1,031 adults in South Africa between 1 and 6 July, and is the fifth in a series of polls conducted by the firm since the implementation of lockdown in the country at the end of March.

TransUnion noted that the Covid-19 pandemic is creating a new reality as its impact has stretched to consumers of all generations and income levels.

It found that with lockdown levels across the country easing from June, fewer consumers have reported being negatively financially impacted by Covid-19. In July, 80% reported negative impact, down four percentage points compared to last month.

Despite this, it said that job losses have increased substantially. This month, 17% of impacted consumers reported losing their jobs compared to 10% in the first survey.

In all previous surveys, rent and utility payments were the two bills that impacted consumers were most concerned about regarding their ability to pay. However, this month, the top two bills that impacted consumers are most concerned about not being able to pay are retail/clothing accounts and personal loans.

Consumers continue to pay less down against existing debt to preserve cash flow.

Almost 38% of affected consumers say they are paying only a partial amount they can afford, TransUnion said. “And with 37% dipping into their savings to help pay their current bills, it is clear that the financial impact of Covid-19 will be felt for some time to come.”


How is your current household income being impacted

Of the 21% of consumers surveyed who reported that they had payment holiday arrangements with their lenders and service providers, 16% had this arrangement for their personal loans and 49% of these consumers were not making any payments on these loans at the time.

The amount that consumers feel they will be short in paying bills decreased to a new low of R6,770, down 5% from the previous survey, and down 10% from the survey high of R7,543 recorded in early May.

What bills and loans are you concerned about your ability to pay?

What has changed in your household budget during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Read: Winter has come for South African consumers – and it could last for years

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