Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Social and Family Development whether the Government expects that ComCare cash assistance will remain elevated for the 2021 financial year.
1 In FY2020, MSF disbursed $236 million in ComCare assistance, a 56% increase from FY2019’s $151 million. The number of individuals who benefitted from ComCare schemes also increased by 22% over the same period, to around 96,000 individuals in FY2020.
2 These increases were largely due to the larger number of ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) beneficiaries in FY2020, and reflected the economic impact of COVID-19 as well as the additional flexibility that Social Service Offices (SSOs) exercised during the pandemic to provide ComCare support. For instance, MSF automatically extended the duration of support of existing ComCare beneficiaries whose assistance ended between May and October 2020 by a further six months, to provide them with a longer runway to stabilise their circumstances. Most new ComCare beneficiaries assisted between April and December 2020 also received at least six months of assistance.
3 SMTA supports low-income and vulnerable individuals and families who may be looking for work, are temporarily unable to work (e.g. due to illness or caregiving responsibilities), or are earning a low income and require financial assistance. SMTA beneficiaries receive comprehensive support, which may include cash assistance for their basic living expenses, and assistance with their household and medical bills. They may also receive employment assistance such as job search and/or training, and be assisted through referrals to other government agencies and community partners for casework and counselling. These help the families to tide over their temporary financial difficulty and support them in their journey to regain stability and self-reliance.
4 In line with the improving economic and labour market situation, the ComCare data for the first 6 months of FY2021 show that the number of beneficiaries has steadily decreased since FY2020. We do not expect the number of ComCare beneficiaries or quantum disbursed in FY2021 to remain at the FY2020 levels, although it may still be higher than pre-COVID levels in FY2019.
5 MSF will continue to work closely with other government agencies and our community partners to provide support and assistance to individuals and families in need. We welcome everyone to step forward and volunteer with us in various initiatives as well – they can register their interest through www.volunteer.gov.sg. If anyone encounters a neighbour, friend or family member who needs support, they can call the ComCare hotline at 1800-222-0000 or refer them to the nearest Social Service Office or Family Service Centre for assistance.