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New grants for those financially affected by Covid-19, as relief schemes for self-employed, taxi and private-hire drivers end

SINGAPORE — There will be two new government grants to help lower- to middle-income workers, the self-employed as well as taxi and private-hire car drivers, whose incomes have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A new grant to help lower- to middle-income workers and self-employed individuals will be launched Jan 18, 2021.

A new grant to help lower- to middle-income workers and self-employed individuals will be launched Jan 18, 2021.

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  • A new grant to help lower- to middle-income workers and self-employed individuals will be launched on Jan 18, 2021
  • A new fund for taxi and private-hire car drivers will also be launched from January next year
  • These come as the current scheme for self-employed workers will expire at the end of this year

 

SINGAPORE — There will be two new government grants to help lower- to middle-income workers, the self-employed as well as taxi and private-hire car drivers, whose incomes have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

These will be launched as the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, which has been providing S$1,000 a month to eligible self-employed workers for nine months this year, will cease on Dec 31. 

The scheme has paid out S$1.8 billion so far, the Manpower Ministry said on Wednesday (Dec 16).

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said it would launch a Covid-19 Recovery Grant on Jan 18 next year, to help lower- to middle-income workers as well as self-employed individuals who have been financially hit by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Meanwhile, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that a new Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund would replace the current Special Relief Fund for taxi and private-hire car drivers from January next year. 

COVID-19 RECOVERY GRANT  

This new grant aims to provide targeted help for lower-income households and those who are significantly affected by job or income losses, MSF said.

How relief will be provided through this grant:

  • For three months, up to S$700 will be provided monthly to workers who have been retrenched, terminated or placed on involuntary no-pay leave for at least three consecutive months

  • For three months, up to S$500 will be provided monthly to workers whose incomes have been cut by at least 50 per cent for at least three consecutive months

  • This is also for self-employed individuals who lost an average of 50 per cent in income for at least three consecutive months, compared with their average monthly income in 2019 or 2020 

  • Applicants' job or income losses must have occurred after Jan 23 this year — the day the first Covid-19 case was detected in Singapore

Who is eligible for this grant:

  • Applicants must have a gross monthly household income of S$7,800 or less or a monthly per capita income of S$2,600 or less, before being affected by the crisis

  • Applicants must be economically active and have worked for at least six months cumulatively between January 2019 and December 2020, before being hit by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic

  • Applicants must have had their income cut by at least 50 per cent 

  • Applicants must not own more than one property and must live in one with an annual value of less than S$21,000

  • Applicants must show that they have been looking for jobs or applying for skills training programmes through government portals, attending job interviews or taking part in career coaching at government-linked career centres

  • Applicants cannot be concurrently receiving support through ComCare assistance programmes or SGUnited relief packages 

How to apply for this grant:

  • From Jan 18 to Dec 31 next year, individuals can apply online from 9am to 10pm every day

  • Applicants should prepare supporting documents such as bank statements 

COVID-19 DRIVER RELIEF FUND 

LTA said the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund would cost S$133 million, in addition to S$55 million already committed to the Special Relief Fund, which will be transferred over from January next year. 

The Special Relief Fund was launched in February as part of a package to help drivers tide over the economic crisis. Through this fund, taxi and private-hire car drivers are able to get relief of S$300 per vehicle per month till the end of September. It was later extended by six months. 

How relief will be provided through the new grant:

  • Drivers will receive S$600 per vehicle every month from January to March next year (or S$20 a day) 

  • Drivers will receive S$450 per vehicle every month from April to June next year (or S$15 a day)

Some 52,000 drivers who are eligible for the current Special Relief Fund will be automatically transitioned to the new fund from January next year.

Drivers under this scheme will not be able to apply for the Covid-19 Recovery Grant. Drivers may, however, apply for the Covid-19 Recovery Grant if they do not meet the eligibility criteria for this fund. 

The National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association said the new fund was a “much-welcomed move" by its drivers.

“This payout will bring much relief to our drivers as, even though the economy is opening, it is still not at pre-Covid levels.” 

Right now, eligible drivers are receiving payouts from both the Special Relief Fund and the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme. 

In its statement, LTA said that taxi and private-hire car ridership remains lower than pre-pandemic levels owing to the lack of tourism and with many people still working from home.

It also said that the pandemic has changed commuting patterns with passengers taking shorter trips, which have resulted in lower fares per trip. 

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