Mr Chong Kee Hiong
MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the current number of households with persons with disabilities (PwDs); and (b) what measures are available to assist them financially and with respite care.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) currently does not have data on the number of households with persons with disabilities. We are working with the Department of Statistics to include this and other disability-related questions in the next population census to be conducted in 2020.
There is a range of financial support and subsidies for persons with disabilities across different life stages. Depending on their household income and financial circumstances, they may qualify for financial assistance schemes such as ComCare Long-Term Assistance, Short-to- Medium Term Assistance and Student Care Subsidies. Low-income persons with disabilities and their families are also eligible for various disability schemes across life stages.
At the preschool stage, all government-funded centres that offer the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) have schemes in place to help families subsidise EIPIC fees. There is also another subsidy scheme, the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (PPIP), for parents with children enrolled in selected private intervention centres (PICs).
Financial subsidies are also available to caregivers of students in government-funded Special Education (SPED) schools. This includes the SPED Financial Assistance Scheme to help eligible students get a full waiver of school fees, free textbooks and free school attire. SPED schools are also given a grant for Discretionary Financial Assistance (DFA), to be given out by the school. Like all other students, Singaporean students with disabilities in mainstream schools can also qualify for financial assistance based on their family’s financial circumstances.
After graduation, persons with disabilities may enrol in government-funded services such as Day Activity Centres (DAC) and Sheltered Workshops. While DAC fees may vary based on the programme that the client is enrolled in, low income families are given more subsidies to keep the fees affordable. Caregivers can also tap on the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession and the Foreign Domestic Worker Grant for persons with disabilities to defray the cost of employing a foreign domestic worker to look after family members with disabilities. Working caregivers may also qualify for tax reliefs if they are supporting spouses, children, parents or siblings with disabilities.
There are also several schemes administered by SG Enable to financially support persons with disabilities to live independently in their homes and the community. For instance, the Assistive Technology Fund subsidises up to 90% of the cost of buying, replacing and repairing assistive technology devices that help them to live independently. These schemes also include various transport subsidies such as the Public Transport Concession Scheme for persons with disabilities, Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) Transport Subsidies, Taxi Subsidy Scheme, and the Disabled Persons Scheme to support persons with disabilities who are unable to use public transport and require a vehicle to earn a living.
Low-wage Singaporeans with disabilities can also benefit from two Workfare schemes to increase their wages and enhance their skills. The Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) tops up the salaries and CPF savings of low-wage workers, with up to $3,600 in cash and CPF contributions annually, while the Workfare Training Support (WTS) scheme provides support to encourage low-wage workers to upgrade their skills. SG Enable also helps job-ready persons with disabilities to look for employment.
Respite care services are currently provided by nine Adult Disability Homes and three Children Disability Homes. These services are offered to families of persons with disabilities who may need short-term assistance in providing care for their loved ones. Caregivers seeking respite care services should approach SG Enable if they require information or support.