The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity research group (PMBEJD) has published its latest Household Affordability Index, which details price changes for basic and essential food items across the country. The index for January 2021 shows that a food basket of 44 priority items has increased marginally since December 2020.
According to the PMBEJD, the average household food basket now costs R4 051 per month. The basket consists of only food that has been identified as essential by low-income homes for a month. Taking a look at how much the bare necessities cost each month feels more important now than ever, as many have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or have had their salaries reduced as companies struggle to cope with the loss of revenue caused by the lockdown.
At just over R4000, the basket is still more costly than a single-income family can afford on a minimum wage of R3500. Paying over R4000 is also out of reach for 55.5% of the country’s population. Editing the basket of essentials down to its very core brings it to a total of R2200 per month.
The difference in cost between homes in major metros such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban gives a better picture of how dire the financial situation in the country really is.