Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Social and Family Development what is the proportion of self-employed persons that could not receive their COVID-19 Recovery Grants due to their insufficient MediSave payments.
1. Mr Speaker, the Member has also filed a question on the proportion of rejected applications due to the job search and training requirement for the COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) and COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG) for a subsequent Sitting. I will address both questions in this reply.
2. Both CSG and CRG assist lower- to middle-income resident employees who, as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, are:
- Involuntarily unemployed due to retrenchment or contract termination;
- Placed on involuntary no-pay leave for at least three consecutive months; or
- Experiencing significant salary loss for at least three consecutive months.
CRG also supports self-employed persons (SEPs) who experience significant loss in net trade income for at least three consecutive months. Applications for the CSG closed on 31 Dec 2020, while CRG is open for applications until 31 Dec 2021.
3. For both CSG and CRG, applicants experiencing job loss are required to provide supporting documents of their job search or training efforts. These can include attending job interviews or applying for training opportunities via Government-linked touchpoints like the MyCareersFuture and MySkillsFuture portals.
4. Employees who are employed but are experiencing income loss or are on involuntary no-pay-leave are exempted from this criterion because they are still working or may be recalled to work, and hence will face more difficulty committing to job search or training. SEP applicants who wish to remain in their current sector or trade can provide supporting evidence of their attempts to contact new clients or search for new business opportunities, in lieu of job search and training. We have also implemented the COVID-19 Recovery Grant - Temporary (CRG-T), which facilitates quicker assistance to those who are economically affected during this period of Heightened Alert. As it may be challenging for applicants to find jobs or undertake training under the tightened safe management measures, CRG-T does not have job search and training conditions.
5. Applicants failing to meet the job search or training criterion accounted for less than 1% of unsuccessful CSG applications, and around 3% of unsuccessful CRG applications as of 27 Jun 2021.
6. The Member also asked about the CRG criterion for SEPs to fulfil their MediSave contribution obligations. All working individuals should regularly contribute to their CPF for their retirement and future healthcare needs. As SEPs do not receive MediSave contributions from employers, they are required to contribute to their own MediSave accounts based on their past years' declared earnings. To qualify for a second tranche of CRG assistance, SEP applicants should either not have any outstanding MediSave contributions, or commit to making contributions via a GIRO instalment plan with CPF Board. We have waived this requirement for those applying for their first tranche of CRG to allow eligible SEPs to receive timely assistance and give them more time to make arrangements for their MediSave contributions. Individuals who do not meet the MediSave contribution criterion make up less than 1% of the unsuccessful CRG applications by SEPs.
7. I would like to encourage those who do not meet the qualifying criteria for CRG, but are facing extenuating circumstances and need help, to approach our Social Service Offices. Our SSOs will look into ways to support them. Our SSOs may also link them to other assistance schemes or community partners for future assistance if necessary.