Ms Hazel Poa asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether he can provide an update on the review of ComCare eligibility criteria; (b) as Social Service Offices (SSO) may exercise flexibility when providing financial assistance, whether the Ministry has data on the annual number of families and individuals who did not satisfy the eligibility criteria but were provided ComCare assistance nonetheless, in the past three years; and (c) if so, what is the amount disbursed.
1 MSF is reviewing the income eligibility criteria for ComCare this year as part of our regular review every 2-3 years. The income eligibility criteria is not a hard threshold to qualify for assistance – our Social Service Offices (SSOs) assess applicants’ needs and exercise flexibility when providing financial assistance.
2 From 2019 to 2021, SSOs exercised flexibility to provide ComCare assistance to more than 700 households, or 2,400 individuals who did not meet the income eligibility criteria. Close to $1 million in ComCare cash assistance for daily living needs, assistance for rental and utilities expenses and service and conservancy charges (S&CC), was disbursed to these households over the period. The quantum of cash assistance is determined based on the assessed shortfall in the household’s income to meet basic living expenses. These households are also automatically eligible for assistance for medical bills, and could have received other targeted assistance such as the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme, subsidies for preschool and public rental housing, and broad-based transfers such as the Workfare Income Supplement and Silver Support.