9 October 2020
ComCare Spending Increased 19% In 2019 to $151 Million
1 The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) released the ComCare Annual Report FY 2019 and the ComCare Trends Report FY2015-2019 today, with the following key statistics/findings:
▪ MSF disbursed $151 million in ComCare cash assistance in FY2019, a 19% increase from FY2018;
▪ ComCare assisted some 78,600 beneficiaries in FY2019, a 4% increase from FY2018;
▪ 28,800 households were assisted by ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) in FY2019, increasing by 6% compared to FY2018; and
▪ 9,600 children received Student Care Fee Assistance in FY2019, a 6% increase from FY2018.
Multiple layers of assistance in place
2 The Government has strengthened its social safety nets over the last decade and put in place a suite of help measures covering education, healthcare, housing, employment and retirement adequacy for Singaporeans. These broad-based schemes and subsidies are complemented during the COVID-19 pandemic by interim Government assistance schemes such as the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF), COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG), the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) and the Care and Support Package including the Solidarity Payment.
3 To complement these multiple layers of assistance, ComCare supports low-income households with their living expenses. ComCare assistance is disbursed through the Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA), Long-Term Assistance (LTA), Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) and Interim Assistance schemes. To provide existing Comcare beneficiaries with longer runway to regain stability during this economic downturn, MSF has automatically extended the duration of their ComCare assistance by six months. This applies to ComCare households whose assistance is due for review by October this year. New ComCare beneficiaries this period will also generally receive at least six months of assistance, to give them a longer runway to regain stability.
More low-income and vulnerable groups supported by ComCare
Increased number of ComCare beneficiaries in FY2019
4 The number of unique individuals assisted by ComCare increased by about 4% between FY2018 and FY2019, to 78,600.
Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA)
5 The number of individuals assisted by SMTA for their daily living expenses increased by about 5%, to about 64,400 beneficiaries in FY2019.The proportion of SMTA households living in 1- to 2-room flats has also increased. This increase is likely to reflect the early economic effects of the COVID-19 and more households becoming eligible after adjustments to ComCare assessment criteria in July 2019. MSF, together with SG Cares community partners and volunteers have been proactively reaching out to low-income and vulnerable groups, including households living in public rental flats. Volunteers have referred some 2,300 of the 6,300 households engaged so far to relevant agencies for further assistance.
Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA)
6 The number of children receiving student care fee assistance increased by about 6%, to about 9,600 in FY2019. This increase is due to more student care centres (SCCs) being set up in schools – there were 185 SCCs in schools in FY2019, up from 170 in the previous year.
Long-Term Assistance (LTA)
7 The number of individuals assisted by LTA decreased by about 3%, to about 4,400 in FY2019.
Interim Assistance (IA)
8 The number of individuals assisted by Interim Assistance Schemes increased by about 16%, to about 7,700 in FY2019.
9 Commenting on the ComCare Trends report and the Annual Report, Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Masagos Zulkifli said, “There has been a broad-based increase in the number of people who received ComCare support in the last financial year, and we have also seen significant increase of 20-30% of ComCare applications in recent months compared to the same period last year. As social needs grow and economic outlook remains uncertain, we will continue to reach out to those in need, and focus our resources on those with greater needs. Households in public rental flats formed half of the recipients, reinforcing the need to continue our ongoing outreach through the SG Cares community networks. MSF will continue to work together with government agencies and community partners to make help available and accessible to Singaporeans in need.”
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION - COMCARE TRENDS REPORT FY2015-FY2019
AND COMCARE ANNUAL REPORT FY2019
1. What does ComCare assistance cover?
ComCare beneficiaries receive a comprehensive package of assistance which may include cash assistance for their daily living expenses and assistance with their household and medical bills. They may receive employment assistance such as job search and/or training, which is provided by Career Consultants from Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC e2i. They may also be assisted through referrals to other government agencies and community partners such as Family Service Centres (FSCs) for casework and counselling.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide existing Comcare beneficiaries with longer runway to regain stability during this economic downturn, MSF has automatically extended the duration of their ComCare assistance by six months. This applies to ComCare households whose assistance is due for review between May and October this year. New ComCare beneficiaries this period will also generally receive at least six months of assistance, to give them a longer runway to regain stability.
2. ComCare helped around 78,600 beneficiaries in FY2019. What assistance is available for other vulnerable groups?
The Government has expanded and strengthened our social safety nets over the years.
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, including the following:
● Employment: Progressive Wage Model, Enhanced Workfare Income Supplement Scheme, Workfare Training Support (WTS) Scheme
● Retirement Adequacy: CPF LIFE
● Healthcare: MediShield Life, CHAS, Pioneer Generation Package, Community Network for Seniors
● Housing: Additional CPF Housing Grant, Fresh Start Housing Scheme
● Social safety nets: ComCare, MediFund
We have also strengthened upstream intervention for vulnerable families and children to set a good foundation. For example:
● KidSTART provides holistic support to children from low-income families to enable them to have a good start in life.
● MSF supports MOE’s UPLIFT initiatives to enhance after-school care support for students.
● Community Link provides targeted support to families with children in rental flats.
● Fresh Start Housing Scheme supports low-income families in owning 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.
3. The proportion of 1- to 2-room households that have been assisted by SMTA has been increasing over the years. What is the reason for this?
The proportion of ComCare SMTA recipients who were households living in 1- to 2-room flats has increased from 46.7% in FY2015 to 52.1% in FY2019. The majority of them were elderly, living alone or with their spouse, and had limited family support. This increase is also in line with efforts to proactively reach out to low-income and vulnerable groups, such as households living in public rental flats.