Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Social and Family Development in the past two years (a) how many Social Service Agencies (SSA) received more funding from the Ministry to cope with the additional work brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic; and (b) what were the mean and median amounts of additional funding provided to each SSA per year.
1. Over the past two years, all employers, including Social Service Agencies (SSAs), received support from the Jobs Support Scheme to help keep their businesses running and retain their employees.
2. In addition, as the majority of MSF-funded programmes receive funding calibrated by caseload, additional work brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic would have resulted in a commensurate increase in funding. However, even when caseloads were reduced (for example, where a programme could serve fewer clients due to Safe Management Measures), MSF maintained funding at pre-COVID-19 levels. Beyond this, MSF provided additional funding to all programmes during FY20 and FY21 in the form of support for ancillary costs during COVID-19. For example, overall MSF funding to the Family Service Centres (FSCs) increased from $85.2m to $90m, or 5.6%, from FY19 to FY20, although actual changes in funding for each FSC would have varied depending on their caseload and client profile.
3. MSF also reviewed the adequacy of funding against the challenges brought about by the new normal, and adjusted funding models where necessary. For instance, funding to the residential homes rose by an estimated $2.4m, or 2.9%, from FY20 to FY21, in view of additional costs to comply with Safe Management Measures and changes to the Environmental Public Health Act.
4. SSAs also benefited from other broad-based support provided to the sector. In Feb 2020, the ComChest Emergency Fund made available $3,000 to each NCSS member to strengthen business continuity measures, purchase personal protective equipment, and carry out cleaning and disinfection of premises. In Apr 2020, NCSS launched The Invictus Fund (TIF) and has since raised $10 million from the community, to support SSAs providing critical services to vulnerable groups. The Government further contributed an additional $18.9m to TIF, with a focus on helping SSAs invest in technology and transform their service delivery for the new normal. SSAs could also apply to TIF if they needed additional financial support to maintain service continuity and comply with Safe Management Measures.
5. MSF will continue to closely monitor and review its funding for programmes to ensure that they receive adequate funding as the COVID-19 situation evolves.