Ms Tin Pei Ling
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) what help is available to support retrenched workers and their families in an economic downturn;
(b) how quickly can help be given; and
(c) whether there is sufficient capacity to cope with an increase in social welfare recipients, especially in an economic downturn.
In the event of an economic downturn, different Government assistance schemes and Government-operated or funded services are available to help retrenched individuals and families in financial need. MOM and MSF will work closely with relevant government and community partners to ensure that those in need receive adequate and timely employment, financial and social assistance.
To help retrenched workers find jobs, the Ministry of Manpower will scale up employment assistance and training measures.
These include place-and-train programmes to help Singaporeans re-skill to take on new jobs and the recently launched Career Support Programme to provide mature Singaporean PMEs with greater opportunities to access mid-level and above jobs. WDA’s Jobs Bank is another avenue for individuals to access job opportunities. For individuals who require career coaching, counselling or training advisory services, WDA’s Career Centres and NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) will organise employer networking sessions, job search related workshops and provide other relevant services. We will also help those unable to find a job immediately to upgrade their skills and become more employable.
For Singaporeans who require financial assistance to tide over a difficult period, they can approach their nearest Social Service Office (SSO). MSF’s officers will consider their individual or family circumstances. During a downturn, we will expand capacity and exercise greater flexibility in extending help through schemes such as the ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance.
Other forms of assistance are also available to help those who have difficulties with housing, healthcare and education costs during a downturn. This includes the temporary reduction or deferment of mortgage instalments for HDB flat owners who face short-term difficulties servicing their HDB loan, Medifund assistance for those unable to afford subsidised healthcare bills, and financial assistance for education-related costs for students from affected families.
Some retrenched workers may need support to manage family issues triggered by financial stress. They can also approach the SSO or other social help agencies such as the Family Service Centres (FSCs) or their grassroots leaders. The FSCs, which receive MSF funding, will support the retrenched workers and their families, through casework and counselling, to manage their stress and access appropriate assistance.