Guiding consumers since 2009

The unemployed are struggling with debt

By Staff Writer

The number of unemployed applicants applying for Debt Counselling in June more than doubled compared to May, according to recent recordings at DebtBusters, a Debt Management Company.

Luke Hirst, MD of Debt Experts, DebtBusters says, ‘These findings are in line with The Quarterly Labour Force Survey published by Statistics SA in May, and are of major concern. In 2009, huge amounts of jobs were lost and Q1 of 2010 has shown a further decline of some 79,000 jobs, showing that the effects of the recession are still being passed down to too many South African household.'

‘Not only are South African consumers struggling with debt, but to top it off the unemployed are having to rely on UIF payments to repay their creditors, as well as for day to day living expenses.'

A consumer may only apply for Debt Counselling if there is an income and that they have something to offer the creditors. This surge in unemployed applicants leaves the consumer in a situation without options, and leaves creditors with the only option available to them - legal action. Banks in South Africa have been hit hard by rising bad debts as unemployment remains high and household finances are shaky after Africa's largest economy exited a recession last year.

Hirst continues, ‘The current situation leaves only one measure to ease consumers' pain. A rate cut later this month, when the MPC meets, is now absolutely necessary. ‘

New research has revealed that the ratio of outstanding home loan debt to disposable income will remain under pressure.

"The household sector is more indebted now and there could be no further support from the interest rate environment," senior property analyst from Absa Home Loans, Jacques du Toit said.

A look at the broader economic environment paints a bleak picture and indicates that households might suffer further financial pressure.

South Africa's unemployment rate increased with 0.9 points to 25.2 percent in the first quarter and as many as 870 000 jobs lost in 2009 with a further 171 000 in the first quarter.

As debt continues to increase, consumers are encouraged to spend their money wisely, save where they can and, those who are in trouble should seek debt advice from a professional.

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