Ms Cheryl Chan
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) what has been the efficacy of the Social Service Offices since their inception;
(b) what are the top five support schemes provided; and
(c) whether there is a stable trend observed in the social assistance and services sought.
MSF established the Social Service Offices (SSOs) in 2013 to bring about more accessible and coordinated social help for Singaporeans. The SSOs provide financial assistance to low-income families who need help. They also work with Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) and community partners to coordinate social services within each HDB town.
With the full network of 24 centres up, some 95% of SSO beneficiaries living in HDB towns can access an SSO within 2 kilometres of where they live or work. Based on a 2015 MSF survey, nine in 10 SSO beneficiaries were satisfied with the SSOs’ location and service quality.
The SSOs are also working with community partners such as the Family Service Centres to better coordinate help for families with more complex needs. This is a work in progress. Part of it includes piloting new service delivery models. For example, the SSOs at Taman Jurong and Kreta Ayer offer financial assistance, employment assistance and family services under one roof.
When delivering financial assistance, the SSOs adopt a needs-based approach. The assistance can be classified into a few categories. In order of decreasing number of beneficiaries, these would be (i) short-to-medium-term assistance for those looking for work or temporarily unable to work; (ii) long-term assistance for those permanently unable to work; and (iii) interim assistance for those who require immediate or one-off assistance.
With better accessibility and greater awareness, the SSOs have helped more Singaporeans. For example, the number of households that received ComCare short-to-medium term and long-term financial assistance has increased from 23,992 in FY2012 to 31,307 in FY2014.