Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang MP for Nee Soon GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development in each year of the past five years (a) how many ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance recipients are first-time applicants; (b) what is the median monthly payout for first-time applicants; (c) what is the median number of months the first-time applicants have received the assistance; and (d) what percentage of first-time applicants have reapplied for assistance within 12 months of receiving ComCare.
1 ComCare is part of the multiple layers of assistance provided by the Government to support low-income individuals and families. Households that require help to tide over a period of financial difficulty are provided with ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA). Depending on the needs of the household, our Social Service Offices (SSOs) may provide financial assistance in cash, help them with household and medical bills, and refer them to agencies such as Workforce Singapore for employment assistance, or Family Services Centre for further support. As the needs, profile, and size of each household is different, the quantum and duration of assistance they require may also vary.
2 Between 2015 and 2017, the number of households that received SMTA at any point in time was between 14,000 and 16,000. We do not have readily available data on how many of these were first-time SMTA applicants. The median monthly assistance quantum that a household on SMTA received was about $400, and the median duration of assistance in a year was about 6 months. These figures exclude other forms of government assistance and subsidies that households could be receiving, such as MediFund for medical expenses, subsidised rental housing, financial assistance for school fees, or childcare subsidies.
3 Among households whose SMTA ended in 2016, about 25 per cent households reapplied and received SMTA within 12 months. These families may have faced new challenges or changes in their family, work, or health circumstances. We do not have five-year data available.
4 Beyond these statistics, it is important to understand the challenges families face in overcoming their issues, and the support that will help sustain their self-reliance. MSF will continue to study these trends in close partnership with stakeholders in the community, particularly those who are working directly with families in need.