1. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provided $130 million in ComCare support to about 83,000 beneficiaries in FY2016. The total number of households assisted by ComCare has generally increased across the different schemes over the past five years, in line with the enhanced coverage of ComCare assistance and the rollout of the network of Social Service Offices (SSOs) over the period 2013-2015. At the same time, we saw a slight decrease in the number of households assisted under Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA), compared to FY2015. MSF will continue to monitor this trend, and assess if it stabilises.
2. The Government invests heavily in education, healthcare, housing and skills upgrading for Singaporeans. These range from broad-based subsidies that benefit many, to targeted assistance for low-income and vulnerable groups who need additional help.
3. With multiple layers of government assistance and a network of government and community agencies that provide targeted assistance for individuals or households in need, ComCare is one of the key social safety nets for low-income households, with ComCare assistance disbursed mainly through the Long-Term Assistance (LTA), Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA), and Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) schemes.
4. The majority of households on ComCare received SMTA. About 28,400 households received SMTA in FY2016, a 38 per cent increase from about 20,500 in FY2012. About 4,300 households received LTA in FY2016, a 28 per cent increase from about 3,400 in FY2012.
5. Households on SMTA were mostly headed by persons aged 45 to 64. The proportion of households on SMTA headed by persons aged 55 to 64 increased from 18 per cent in FY2012 to 23 per cent in FY2016. The increase in proportion of households with older persons or retirees corresponds with demographic trends such as shrinking family sizes and an ageing population.
6. The proportion of households on SMTA headed by persons who were not working increased from 48 per cent in FY2012 to 53 per cent in FY2016. Most of those who were not working were either medically unfit or retired (35 per cent in FY2016).
7. Commenting on the ComCare Trends Report FY2012 to FY2016, Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Desmond Lee said, "Over the past five years, we have seen a significant increase in ComCare support to more individuals and families, as awareness of and accessibility to ComCare assistance have been enhanced with the setting up of our Social Service Offices in the community. Even as the Government has stepped up to help those in need, not just through ComCare but also through our many other layers of assistance, these individuals and their households continue to need support from their families and the community. With families, the community and the Government working closely together, we can foster a more caring and gracious society."
Annex A: ComCare Annual Report FY2016
Annex B: ComCare Trends Report FY2012-2016
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the general trend of ComCare households from FY2012-FY2016?
There is a general increase in the number of households assisted on all ComCare schemes from FY2012 to FY2016, with a slight decrease in those assisted on SMTA in FY2016.
2. What are the reasons for the decrease in the number of households assisted on ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) in FY2016, bucking the increasing trend since FY2012?
The increase in the number of households assisted on SMTA from FY2012 to FY2015 could be due to several reasons. Since July 2014, we have increased the monthly household income cap for families seeking SMTA from $1,700 to $1,900, and the cap on income per household member was raised from $550 to $650. In 2013, MSF started rolling out a network of Social Service Offices (SSOs) to provide more accessible and coordinated social assistance to Singaporeans in need. By 2015, we had set up the full network of 24 SSOs across the island. MSF will continue to monitor this trend, and assess if it stabilises.
3. ComCare helped around 83,000 individuals in FY2016. What is being done for the rest of the low-income group?
The Government is prepared to extend help to those in need. We have, in recent years, done more to expand and strengthen our social safety nets.
As the needs of the low-income or vulnerable groups are often multi-faceted, we have in place multiple layers of government assistance and a network of government and community agencies that provide targeted and customised assistance for individuals or households in need:
- Employment: Progressive Wage Model, Enhanced Workfare Income Supplement Scheme, Workfare Training Support (WTS) Scheme
- Retirement Adequacy: CPF LIFE, Silver Support Scheme
- Healthcare: MediShield Life, CHAS, Pioneer Generation Package
- Housing: Additional CPF Housing Grant, Fresh Start Housing Scheme
- Social safety nets for the most needy: ComCare, Medifund
We have also strengthened upstream intervention for vulnerable families and children to set a good foundation. For example, we introduced upstream programmes such as KidSTART and the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, to support low-income families in their aspirations to provide a good foundation for their children and to own a home again.
We will continue to monitor the trend of households needing help, and work closely with other government agencies and our community partners to provide support and assistance to individuals and families in need.
4. The number and proportion of SMTA main applicants aged 55 and above have been increasing over the last 5 years. What are some of the reasons for this? What is the Government doing about this?
The proportion of households headed by persons aged 55 to 64 has increased from 17.7 per cent in FY2012 to 22.7 per cent in FY2016.
In line with the increase in SMTA main applicants aged 55 to 64, the proportion of those who were not working increased from 47.6 per cent in FY2012 to 52.7 per cent in FY2016, mostly because they were medically unfit or retired. In particular, those who were medically unfit increased from 18.7 per cent to 21.2 per cent and those who were retired increased from 9.9 per cent to 13.4 per cent.
The Government will continue to provide assistance as long as necessary, and ensure holistic support by linking them up with relevant help agencies, such as Family Service Centres to provide social support, Medical Social Workers for assistance with medical expenses and Workforce Singapore to provide employment assistance for those who are able to work.
5. With an ageing population, is there an increase in the number of elderly assisted by the Government?
Yes. Under the ComCare Long Term Assistance (LTA) scheme, 3,757 elderly main applicants (aged 60 years & above) were assisted in FY2016, an increase from 2,971 in FY2012. Under the ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA) scheme, 6,769 elderly main applicants (aged 60 years & above) were assisted in FY2016, also an increase from 3,890 in FY2012. In addition, MSF supports elderly who require long-term specialised care in our funded homes. In FY2016, there were about 3,000 such beneficiaries in MSF sheltered, disability and welfare homes.
There are various government schemes that support our low-income elderly with different needs. These include:
- Silver Support Scheme: provides cash pay-outs of up to $750 per quarter
- Pioneer Generation Package: provides healthcare benefits for all Pioneers, for life
- Senior Mobility and Enabling Fund: provides subsidies for assistive devices, transport and home healthcare items for seniors to age in place within the community
- MediShield Life Premium Support: provides subsidies for MediShield Life premiums
- Government-funded social services that the elderly can benefit from, such as Senior Activity Centres and Befriending Programmes.