August 2021 Household Affordability Index

August 2021 Household Affordability Index and Media Statement

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Massive food price spikes in Cities affected by social unrest.

Over the past month, between July 2021 and August 2021:

  • The Durban Household Food Basket increased by R161,60 (3,9%) and now stands at R4288,51.
  • The Joburg Household Food Basket increased by R143,27 (3,4%) and now stands at R4331,13.
  • The Pietermaritzburg Household Food Basket increased by R128,33 (3,2%) and now stands at R4093,00.

The August 2021 data shows that all baskets, regardless of region, increased in August 2021, and that all baskets, including the average cost of the basket is at the highest level since we started tracking the household food basket in September 2020, 12 months ago.

The average cost of all household baskets has increased by R384,78 or 10% to R4241,11 over the past 12 months.

The food price spikes indicate that households are enduring great hardship and it is incumbent on the state to intervene. At the very minimum the SRD R350 grant must be paid out immediately, as well as The Destroyed, Affected or Looted Workplaces: Temporary Financial Relief Scheme. These measures are small and will not solve the problem but will help while the bigger economic questions are resolved.

Household living on low incomes, and workers earning low wages spend a very large portion of their incomes on food and electricity. A 10% increase on basic food stuffs and a 14,95% increase on electricity will play havoc with the ability of households to function. For workers who have recently lost their jobs in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and families who have been barely holding on during the past two years, these spikes in the costs of basic needs will precipitate a massive crisis in homes. Emergency relief is needed.

Neither the SRD Grant nor the Temporary Financial Relief Scheme have yet been dispensed.

The delay in dispensing relief to households and workers affected by the unrest in July 2021 is resulting in unnecessary suffering. The hardship that is being created now keeps the possibility of more unrest alive.

We are in the middle of an emergency food crisis. It is critical that money gets to people as soon as possible. The decision by government to start the SRD grant process from scratch when the systems are in place for immediate cash transfer is astounding. There is no need for this level of bureaucracy which is delaying money getting to where it is most needed. People could die.

All persons who have previous applied for the SRD grant, give people the grant. All mothers who receive a Child Support Grant, give mothers the SRD grant. The systems are in place.

The gazetting of The Destroyed, Affected or Looted Workplaces: Temporary Financial Relief Scheme on the 6th of August was crucial. Again, the systems are in place, that being the UIF/TERS platform. The portal for claiming is said to go live on the 25th of August 2021. We don’t know how long it will take after this process for the monies to reach workers pockets. The end of the month is looming. Workers who have lost their jobs, will have no means to buy food unless the TFRS pay-out is immediate.

Government is precipitating yet another crisis by its inaction. Tensions are escalating between workers and employers because workers do not trust that the monies have not yet been dispensed. The uncertainty surrounding the delays will have consequences for rebuilding. Government must move quickly. The mood on the ground is on edge. Most workers, historically paid so little, have no more savings buffers, there is no more money to absorb shocks. Paying out the SRD grant and the TFRS grant as soon as possible, will calm things down temporarily so that the thinking that needs to happen to move things forward and better is given space.

We have been gifted yet another disaster for the ANC to show us they are capable of great leadership. The ANC keeps on telling us that they are the leaders of society. Do it now, do it quickly and simply, and do it right.

Key data from August 2021 follows on page 3 of Media Statement.

For information and media enquiries, contact: Mervyn Abrahams on 079 398 9384 and; or Julie Smith on 072 324 5043 and

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Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group