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ComCare spending up 19% to S$151 million in 2019, with more low-income and vulnerable groups getting help

SINGAPORE — A total of S$151 million in ComCare cash assistance was disbursed to beneficiaries in the 2019 financial year (FY2019), a 19 per cent increase from the previous year, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Friday (Oct 9).

Housing and Development Board flats in Singapore.

Housing and Development Board flats in Singapore.

Singapore

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SINGAPORE — A total of S$151 million in ComCare cash assistance was disbursed to beneficiaries in the 2019 financial year (FY2019), a 19 per cent increase from the previous year, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Friday (Oct 9).

Overall, more low-income and vulnerable groups were supported by ComCare, MSF said in a media release. About 78,600 beneficiaries were assisted by ComCare in FY2019, which ended on Mar 31 this year, a 4 per cent increase from the previous year.

ComCare supports low-income households with their living expenses and assistance is disbursed through schemes such as Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance, Long-Term Assistance, Student Care Fee Assistance and Interim Assistance schemes.

An increase was also seen across all ComCare assistance schemes except for Long-Term Assistance, said the ministry in its annual report.

The total number of households assisted on the Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance, Long-Term Assistance, Student Care Fee Assistance schemes has remained relatively stable over the years, said MSF.

About 64,400 individuals received Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance for their daily living expenses in FY2019, an increase of 5 per cent.

The increase is likely to reflect the early economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and more households becoming eligible after adjustments to ComCare assessment criteria in July 2019, said MSF.

So far, 2,300 of the 6,300 households were referred to the relevant agencies for further assistance, said MSF.

The proportion of households living in 1- to 2-room flats receiving Short-to-Medium Term Assistance also increased, from 46.7 per cent in FY2015 to 52.1 per cent in FY2019. The majority were elderly, living alone or with their spouse, and had limited family support.

“This increase is also in line with efforts to proactively reach out to low-income and vulnerable groups, such as households living in public rental flats,” said MSF.

About 9,600 children received help with student care fees in FY2019, an increase of 6 per cent. This is due to more student care centres being set up in schools, with 185 centres in schools in FY2019, up from 170 in the previous year.

However, the number of individuals receiving Long-Term Assistance decreased by about 3 per cent, to about 4,400 in FY2019, said MSF. Individuals aged 65 and above made up about 80 per cent of all individuals on Long-Term Assistance, according to MSF’s trends report.

The number of individuals receiving Interim Assistance also increased by 16 per cent, with about 7,700 people receiving assistance in FY2019. Interim Assistance schemes provide immediate financial assistance to individuals and families who require temporary financial relief.

DURATION OF COMCARE ASSISTANCE EXTENDED BY SIX MONTHS

Over the last decade, the Government has strengthened its social safety nets and put in place a suite of measures covering education, healthcare, housing, employment and retirement adequacy for Singaporeans, said MSF.

To provide existing beneficiaries with a "longer runway" to regain stability during the economic downturn, MSF also automatically extended the duration of its ComCare assistance by six months.

This applies to ComCare households whose assistance is due for review between May and October 2020, said MSF.

"New ComCare beneficiaries this period will also generally receive at least six months of assistance, to give them a longer runway to regain stability," it added.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said there was a “broad-based increase” in the number of people who received ComCare support in the last financial year, as well as a significant increase of 20 to 30 per cent in ComCare applications in recent months compared to the same period last year.

“As social needs grow and economic outlook remains uncertain, we will continue to reach out to those in need, and focus our resources on those with greater needs.

“Households in public rental flats formed half of the recipients, reinforcing the need to continue our ongoing outreach through the SG Cares community networks,” said Mr Masagos.

MSF said it will continue to monitor the trend of households needing help. It will also work closely with other government agencies and community partners to provide support and assistance to individuals and families in need. CNA

For more stories like this, visit cna

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