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Distribution of support grants

Mr Sharael Taha: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether the Ministry To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether the Ministry reviewing the eligibility criteria for the distribution of grants based on per capita income per household whereby the 'household' is defined by unique address; and (b) whether the Ministry is considering alternative ways of distributing support grants that can account for breadwinners supporting family members beyond the immediate household so that the sandwiched generation can be assisted through these difficult times.

Answer

     In light of the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has introduced support measures to protect workers and save jobs. These include the Jobs Support Scheme to stabilise our economy and stem unemployment; the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package to help Singaporeans access job opportunities and pick up skills and capabilities; and the Jobs Growth Incentive to support employers to accelerate their hiring of local workforce. The Government has also provided temporary financial support to affected workers through the Temporary Relief Fund, the COVID-19 Support Grant, and the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme.

2    In designing support schemes, government agencies adopt criteria such as the household per capita income (PCI) or gross household income as proxies of a household’s financial resources and ability to tide through challenging periods. This is to allow us to channel support to those who need it more. For example, applicants to the COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) may qualify for CSG if they meet either the household income or per capita household income criteria. For large households with higher expenses, PCI is often more meaningful to allow these households to qualify. Household income criteria is typically based on residential address as household members living together would likely be sharing resources.

3    For those who miss the qualifying criteria, MSF exercises flexibility when considering appeals for support schemes such as the CSG, taking into consideration the needs and circumstances of the family. For example, when assessing appeals for the CSG, we consider the challenges of sandwiched families who have to support young children, as well as elderly parents who may not be staying with them. We have provided CSG to appellants on this basis. Family members or relatives in other households who are in need may also apply in their own right to be assessed for support grants or ComCare.

4    We encourage families with extenuating circumstances to approach our Social Service Offices, which will look into ways to support them together with community partners. MSF will continue to review our social assistance schemes regularly and take into account the changing needs of the vulnerable groups.

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