6 February 2017
Mr Seah Kian Peng
MP for Marine Parade GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development given the sluggish economy and uncertain outlook ahead, whether the Ministry has seen an increase in the number of people seeking social assistance and, if so, what additional measures will the Ministry be instituting to provide relief to this group of affected people.
The number of applications for ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance was 60,170 in 2015, and 57,694 in 2016. Over the four quarters in 2016, the number of applications has hovered around 14,000 to 15,000 per quarter, with no clear trend.
MSF is closely monitoring the situation with regard to the number of households stepping forward for assistance and their profiles. MSF stands ready to provide additional support, just as we did during the 2009 global financial crisis. Let me share on some of these additional support measures:
First, we are prepared to exercise greater flexibility in providing ComCare assistance to support households. For example, our SSO officers can provide retrenched workers with a longer duration of assistance if they require more time to find a job. This could be a result of external factors beyond the individual’s control, such as limited availability of job openings that fit his or her skillset.
Second, we are prepared to step up our manpower temporarily at our SSOs if there are significant increases in applications for ComCare assistance, so that households in need continue to receive assistance in a timely manner.
Third, our SSOs will also work with the Family Service Centres to assist recently retrenched clients who may require counselling and support.
In addition, through an initiative by the National Council of Social Service, companies can engage social service organisations to deploy social service professionals on-site during restructuring exercises to provide support to those affected and information on community resources available.
MSF will continue to monitor developments in the labour market closely, and work with government agencies and community partners to provide support and assistance to individuals and families in need.