3 July 2017
Mr Seah Kian Peng
MP for Marine Parade GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development with regard to the Social Service Office (SSO) (a) whether there are plans to set up more of such offices and, if so, where will these be located; (b) whether the results have met the Ministry's expectations and objectives; and (c) whether the operating procedures including operating hours are the same throughout all SSOs.
In 2013, MSF started setting up Social Service Offices in HDB towns, to provide more accessible and coordinated social assistance to Singaporeans in need. The rollout of the full network of 24 Social Service Offices (SSOs) was completed in 2015, and 95 per cent of ComCare beneficiaries now live or work within 2 kilometres of an SSO. There are no immediate plans to set up more SSOs.
Our SSOs have largely been successful in meeting our broad objectives. Physical accessibility and awareness of ComCare have increased because of the SSOs, and this has made it easier for needy families to seek help.
Aside from providing ComCare assistance directly, SSOs also do ground-sensing and collaborate with Voluntary Welfare Organisations and community partners to identify needs within each HDB town, to provide more holistic support for those in need. We will continue to explore better ways to be more client-centric and improve service delivery.
We have established standard operating procedures and guidelines so that there is consistency in service delivery across SSOs. Notwithstanding this, SSO officers are empowered to exercise flexibility for individual cases, such as in the amount and duration of Short-to-Medium Term Assistance provided, so that social assistance is calibrated according to the needs of the household.
With regard to operating hours, standalone SSOs are open on weekdays from 9am to 6pm and closed for lunch from 1pm to 2pm. The four SSOs which are co-located with Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) Career Centres have adopted the same operating hours as the WSG and e2i centres - these SSOs close at 5pm on weekdays, and remain open during lunch and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.