1. On 26 Mar 2020, the Government introduced the Resilience Budget to provide strong support to workers, stabilise businesses and build resilience for those affected by COVID-19. As part of this larger effort, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is rolling out the following measures to better support lower- to middle-income Singaporeans who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 situation.
More flexible and accessible ComCare
2. Since the onset of COVID-19, we have stepped up support for low-income households. MSF's Social Service Offices (SSOs) have proactively reached out to more than 6,400 Singaporeans who may be in need of ComCare assistance or other forms of support, as a result of being quarantined or directed to stay at home. Our outreach includes checking in with over 360 current or former ComCare clients who are under quarantine or Stay-Home Notice, to see if they require any assistance.
3. For those under quarantine or Stay-Home Notice who require ComCare assistance, we have simplified the application processes so that they need not apply for ComCare in person. ComCare applicants need only submit supporting documents through email or via mobile phone (e.g. WhatsApp). We also work with community partners to support their other needs. For instance, SSOs coordinate with grassroots volunteers to help purchase and deliver groceries to Persons Under Quarantine and Stay-Home Notice who do not have family, friends or neighbours to turn to.
4. From April 2020, households newly placed on ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance will receive the assistance over a duration of at least six months , which would be longer for most households. The longer ComCare duration will provide greater peace of mind to families and individuals whose livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19, as they seek out job or retraining opportunities.
New measures to support lower- to middle-income Singaporeans
5. With the proposed Resilience Budget, MSF will also put in place two schemes to support lower- to middle-income Singaporeans who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 situation, and who are not on ComCare assistance. As announced by DPM Heng Swee Keat on 26 March 2020, they are the (i) Temporary Relief Fund and (ii) COVID-19 Support Grant.
Temporary Relief Fund to provide immediate financial assistance
6. The Temporary Relief Fund provides immediate financial assistance to lower- to middle-income Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who have lost their jobs or faced an income loss of at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19, and require urgent help with basic living expenses. Eligible applicants will receive one-off cash assistance of $500.
7. The Temporary Relief Fund will be open for applications at all SSOs and Community Centres (CCs) from 1 to 30 April 2020.
COVID-19 Support Grant to provide longer-term assistance and job support for the unemployed
8. From 1 May 2020, lower- to middle-income Singaporean Citizens and Permanent Residents who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and continue to face challenges securing employment can receive help from COVID-19 Support Grant. With the aim of helping them get back on their feet and achieve stability, the Grant will provide eligible Singaporeans $800 a month for three months, if they also commit to receive employment and training support from Workforce Singapore (WSG) and Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).
9. Recipients of the COVID-19 Support Grant who continue to need support in the longer term will be assessed for ComCare assistance.
Community stepping up support for fellow Singaporeans through the Courage Fund
10. Beyond the measures introduced by the Resilience Budget, Singaporeans and corporations have also rallied around those impacted by COVID-19 through their generous giving to The Courage Fund. The Courage Fund is a central donation platform for Singaporeans to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. To date, over $5.6 million has been raised for this purpose.
11. The Courage Fund will help (i) dependents of those who succumb to the virus (ii) healthcare workers, frontline workers and community volunteers who contract the virus in the course of duty, and (iii) lower-income families experiencing financial difficulties as a result of their family member(s) contracting the virus, or having to serve Quarantine Orders, Stay-Home Notices or mandatory Leave of Absence (LOA). Application details will be available on NCSS website by end-March, and eligible lower-income households can also apply at the SSOs from 6 April 2020.
12. The enhancements to ComCare, Temporary Relief Fund, COVID-19 Support Grant and The Courage Fund form part of a larger range of support schemes and initiatives to help Singaporeans affected by COVID-19. A list of these schemes with their eligibility criteria and application details are in Annex B.
13. Those who need help can approach SSOs, their local grassroots or call ComCare hotline (1800-222-000) or Workforce Singapore for more information on the assistance that they are eligible for. MSF will also work with our social service agencies and community partners in the SG Cares Community Networks to proactively identify families who may require such support and help them apply for assistance where needed.
Annexes: Q&A and List of COVID-19 Support Schemes