Ms Yeo Wan Ling asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether there has been an increase in the rejection of renewals for the various Social Service Office support over the last 24 months; and (b) if so, what were the top three reasons for these rejections.
1 Social Service Offices (SSOs) administer ComCare, which provides assistance to low-income households for their basic living expenses. ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) is for households that require help to tide over temporary financial difficulty. ComCare Long-Term Assistance (LTA) is for those who are permanently unable to work and have little or no means of income and family support.
2 MSF tracks the rejection rate of ComCare applications in general and not specifically for renewal requests. The yearly rejection rate for LTA applications has increased slightly from 2% in 2020 to 3% in 2021, while that for SMTA has increased slightly from 30% in 2020 to 34% in 2021. While rejection rates have increased slightly, we are serving more individuals. In 2021, we provided ComCare SMTA and LTA assistance to about 86,300 individuals compared to about 82,600 individuals in 2020, an increase of 4.5%.
3 The top three reasons for unsuccessful ComCare applications in 2020 and 2021 were: (a) applicants being assessed to have a stable source of income or financial support that was sufficient to meet their basic living expenses; (b) applicants withdrawing their applications for reasons such as to apply for other assistance schemes, e.g. the COVID-19 Recovery Grant, or after learning that they would be ineligible; and (c) applicants not submitting supporting documents despite multiple requests by the SSO.
4 In the past 24 months, in addition to ComCare, MSF also assisted individuals who required temporary financial support due to COVID-19, through the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF), COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG), and COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG). These schemes have supported about 480,000 individuals as of end 2021.
5 If a client is ineligible for ComCare assistance, SSOs may assist the family in other ways. For instance, the SSO may consider the client for other government or community assistance schemes, or refer the client to other government agencies or community partners for support in areas like caregiving, medical or employment assistance