85% of population treading water: survey
JOHANNESBURG - A new survey by debt counselling firm Debt Rescue released yesterday found that 85 percent of South Africans needed help either financially, emotionally or both as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
South Africa entered a hard lockdown on March 26 in response to the pandemic. From June 1, the national restrictions were lowered to level 3, with some economic restrictions still in place, causing financial disruption. Neil Roets, the chief executive of Debt Rescue, said: “We have known for some time that things were bad, but the results of this survey just bowled me over. It showed clearly and emphatically that virtually the entire population of this country are in deep trouble and have no idea where or how help is coming from.”
With gross consumer debt at about R2.8trillion (2018/19 StatsSA), it was clear that South Africans were in for a very rough ride, Roets said. A further 55percent required financial assistance, but had no access to credit, while 96percent were stressed about their health, finances or both. Roets said only 26percent of the respondents reported that they had successfully applied for a payment holiday while 51percent said they had no savings to fall back on.
“The fact that 85percent of consumers polled in the survey said that their finances had been directly impacted by Covid-19 showed that most of us were in the same boat,” he said.
The fact that only 11percent of those polled believed they could pay normally after their payment holiday ended shows emphatically that there is a major problem in the offing, Roets said. The survey also found that 45percent of people have been affected by either retrenchment, temporary lay-off or salary reductions.