Majority of South Africans “highly concerned” about being able to pay their bills

As the pandemic has played out we’ve seen some return to how things were in the before times. For many South Africans however, the dream of returning to normality is punctuated by reduced salaries and job losses.

As many as 55 percent of South Africans say their income was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic according to research conducted by TransUnion in November 2021.

The survey drew on response from 1 099 adults and was conducted between 1st and 15th November 2021. The research was conducted by TransUnion in partnership with Qualtrics Research services.

While this figure was lower than August (61 percent) and March (62 percent), unemployment is a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

Further to this, the research found that 85 percent of those surveyed are highly concerned about their ability to pay their bills. The biggest concern is the ability to pay back personal loans (29 percent), informal loans (24 percent) and retail accounts (21 percent).

The research found that 34 percent of surveyed South Africans had one person in their household who had lost their jobs. Those in households earning R50 000 per annum or less were hardest hit with 38 percent of respondent stating someone in their household had lost their job.

“While we’re seeing a slight improvement in the number of people financially negatively impacted by COVID-19, the study highlights the fact that many South Africans remain under pressure,” explains director of financial services research and consulting at TransUnion, Weihan Sun.

“November brought with it changed circumstances following months of lockdown, including municipal elections, increased freedom of movement, as well as increased load shedding. For many consumers, the economic recovery is slow and arduous and will undoubtedly have many more bumps along the way,” Sun adds.

That recovery is incredibly slow with only five percent of those surveyed stating that their household income had fully recovered after being impacted by the pandemic.

What we do find interesting is that, despite the turmoil South Africans who have lost their jobs face, they aren’t turning to credit. While TransUnion found that 47 percent of those surveyed had considered applying for credit, those citizens ultimately chose not take up credit. The reasons for this decision include a fear of being declined because of the persons income / employment status and the cost of credit.

The road to recovery is very slow going and with unemployment reaching record lows, we suspect it will be a while still before the stress of bills and income are alleviated.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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