Ms Mariam Jaafar asked the Minister for Social and Family Development what is the number of ComCare applications where the applicant’s declaration of debt expenses as part of their basic living expenses are not approved.
1 When assessing ComCare applicants’ needs, Social Service Offices (SSOs) will assess the household’s income and expenses, and provide cash assistance to cover the shortfall in income for the household to meet its basic living expenses. Beyond cash assistance, households may also receive assistance for household and medical bills, employment assistance and other government or community support.
2 We do not track the number of ComCare applications with debt expenses declared as part of living expenses. Debt-related expenses are not regarded as part of basic living expenses in the assessment for ComCare cash assistance. Such expenses vary depending on the household’s financial decisions and use of credit, and may contribute towards the building of personal assets, such as housing. It would not be appropriate for the Government to view these debts as part of basic living expenses and fund their repayment via public resources.
3 Nonetheless, our SSOs will work with relevant agencies to help families manage their debts and arrears where possible. For example, SSO officers may link clients up with Singapore Power services, Housing Development Board or Town Councils, to arrange instalment plans for clients to repay their arrears over time. SSOs also refer families which are unable to pay off their unsecured loans and facing other debt issues to Credit Counselling Singapore, which can advise families on debt management. Where relevant, SSOs may refer families to financial literacy programmes, such as those conducted by the Institute of Financial Literacy and other social service agencies, as well.