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Record S$236m went to needy households through ComCare in FY2020 amid Covid-19, up 56% year-on-year: MSF

SINGAPORE — Low-income families in need of financial aid received a record S$236 million from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) through various ComCare schemes during the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis in the 12 months ended March 31, 2021.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development observed that there were more individuals and households living in bigger flats who qualified for ComCare assistance.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development observed that there were more individuals and households living in bigger flats who qualified for ComCare assistance.

  • The Ministry of Social and Family Development disbursed S$236 million in financial aid in the 12 months ended March 31, 2021
  • This is 56 per cent higher than the amount given out in the previous financial year due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis
  • It is also the largest sum since ComCare was set up in 2005
  • The increase is mainly driven by more households receiving aid through ComCare's Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance scheme
  • The proportion of households living in larger public flats requiring assistance was higher than the year before

 

SINGAPORE — Low-income families in need of financial aid received a record S$236 million from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) through various ComCare schemes during the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis in the 12 months ended March 31, 2021.

This is 56 per cent higher than the S$151 million distributed in the previous financial year (FY) ended March 31, 2020 said MSF in a media release on Wednesday (Oct 13).

It is also the highest amount given out to needy families since the Community Care Endowment Fund (ComCare Fund) was launched in 2005. 

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

The increase in financial aid is mainly driven by the increase in households receiving Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance, which temporarily provides cash monthly to households earning below S$1,900, or less than S$650 for each household member.

In total, the number of individuals that received ComCare assistance increased by about 22 per cent to around 96,000 over the same period.

During the previous worst crisis to affect Singapore, the global financial crisis, more than S$51 million was disbursed in FY2008, with more than 24,200 cases receiving aid. And more than S$66 million was provided to close to 25,200 cases the following financial year, figures from MSF showed.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The number of households who received Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance jumped 24 per cent to about 35,700 in the latest financial year, compared to the previous year. The amount disbursed increased by 77 per cent to about S$183 million.

The number of households requiring temporary cash assistance had hovered between 27,100 and 28,800 from FY2016 to FY2019.

The increase was mainly because MSF extended the duration of support for existing ComCare beneficiaries by another six months because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The cash relief was supposed to end between May and December last year.

In contrast, the number of households requiring Long-Term Assistance and Student Care Fee Assistance remained relatively consistent over the last five years.

Households that received Long-Term Assistance hovered between 4,100 and 4,400, while those needing student care subsidies were between 7,300 and 8,400.

MSF also observed that there were more individuals and households living in bigger flats who qualified for ComCare assistance.

The proportion of households living in one-room and two-room Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats that received Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance dropped to 49.1 per cent in the latest financial year from 52.1 per cent a year earlier.

Conversely, the proportion of households living in larger HDB flats went up from 42.1 per cent to 44.9 per cent over the same period.

This is a reversal of a trend from the four financial years before the pandemic struck, where the proportion of households in smaller HDB flats had been increasing.

Another observable difference was that the proportion of people applying for Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance who were working rose to 25 per cent in the latest financial year, from 22.3 per cent a year earlier.

The proportion of applicants not working fell from 56.4 per cent to 51.6 per cent over the same period. Again, this is a reversal of a four-year trend before the pandemic, where the proportion of applicants who were not working had been rising.

The number of individuals who were eligible for Interim Assistance, which provides cash and vouchers for less than three months, also increased by about 21 per cent to about 9,400 in the last financial year.

SHORT-TO-MEDIUM-TERM ASSISTANCE

About half of the main applicants of households who received Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance were aged 45 to 64, a consistent trend over the last five years.

About 70 per cent of households on this scheme have members whose highest educational qualification is up to the secondary school level.

However, the proportion of this group fell to 68.5 per cent in the latest financial year, compared with the previous four financial years where they accounted for more than 71 per cent.

MSF did not state whether this was due to the impact of the pandemic.

Those who were either employed or were looking for jobs made up around 30 per cent of individuals who received Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance. This has been consistent over the last five years.

Households on this scheme, where no one is employed, remained the largest proportion — at 64.2 per cent in the latest financial year, largely in line with the level over the previous four years.

LONG-TERM ASSISTANCE

About 4,100 households received Long-Term Assistance in the latest financial year, a decrease of 2 per cent from the year before. 

Long-Term Assistance is provided to those who are unable to work because of their old age, illness or disability and have little or no family support or savings.

Close to 90 per cent of these households had just one person. The number of one-person households on Long-Term Assistance increased from 73.5 per cent in FY2016 to 87.4 per cent in the latest financial year.

The majority of the households receiving this aid — 68.9 per cent — are those with members whose highest educational qualification is primary school. The figure has been trending downwards very slightly since FY2016, when it was at 70.8 per cent. 

Most of these households getting long-term aid — 72.8 per cent — are also living in one- or two-room HDB flats in the latest financial year. This has also been fairly consistent over the last five years, with the proportion trending upwards from 68.9 per cent in FY2016.

Related topics

MSF ComCare Covid-19 coronavirus low-income families financial aid

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