1. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provided $127 million in ComCare cash assistance to about 37,400 households or 75,200 individuals, in FY20181.
Two key trends were observed
- The total number of households assisted on various ComCare schemes has remained relatively stable over the years; and
- There has been an increasing proportion of seniors assisted by ComCare over the past few years, in line with ageing demographics and smaller family sizes.
Multiple layers of assistance
2. The Government has strengthened its social safety nets over the last decade and put in place a suite of help measures covering education, healthcare, housing, employment and retirement adequacy for Singaporeans. There are broad-based schemes and subsidies that benefit many, as well as targeted assistance for the low-income, e.g. ComCare, Workfare, Silver Support Scheme, Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) and MOE Financial Assistance. Within these multiple layers of assistance, ComCare supports low-income households with their living expenses. ComCare assistance is disbursed mainly through the Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA), Long-Term Assistance (LTA), and Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) schemes.
3. While the number of households on ComCare increased steadily from FY2013 to FY2015 with more SSOs established across Singapore, the number has generally stabilised after all 24 SSOs were set up in 2015, with a slight decrease in FY2018.
ComCare supporting more elderly
4. The majority of the 37,4362 households on ComCare received SMTA, which provides temporary assistance to help families tide over difficult times and regain stability. About 27,100 households received SMTA in FY2018.
5. The proportion of SMTA households with older persons or retirees has also increased, in line with demographic trends of decreasing family sizes and an ageing population. Among households on SMTA, those headed by persons aged 55 to 64 increased from 21% in FY2014 to 25% in FY2018.
6. Households with elderly aged 65 and above continue to make up about 80% of about 4,200 households who received LTA, which provides a package of support for individuals unable to work due to old age, illness or disability, and have little or no family support. Beneficiaries receive monthly cash assistance, medical assistance in polyclinics and government/restructured hospitals, additional assistance for specialised needs>3, and access to government-funded social services such as Senior Activity Centres and befriending services.
7. Commenting on the ComCare Trends report which is released in tandem with the Annual Report, Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Desmond Lee said, “As our population ages and family size gets smaller, ComCare will continue to play an important role in supporting vulnerable elderly and low-income families. We have enhanced ComCare support from July 2019 to provide higher cash assistance to eligible households. While the number of households on ComCare has stabilised, some of them face more challenges due to old age and less family support. This is why we are growing more partnerships between our community and Government agencies to strengthen coordination and provide more comprehensive support to such families.”
1. What is the general trend of households receiving ComCare assistance from FY2014-FY2018?
The total number of households assisted on various ComCare schemes has remained relatively stable over the years. Breaking it down by schemes, there was an overall increase in the total number of households assisted on LTA and SCFA between FY2014 and FY2018, and a slight decrease in the number of households assisted on SMTA between FY2014 and FY2018.
2. What is the general trend of households receiving ComCare SMTA from FY2014-FY2018?
The number of households assisted on SMTA increased steadily by an average of 10% per year from FY2013 to FY2015 as MSF was rolling out a network of SSOs progressively, which increased outreach and made help more accessible to Singaporeans. In July 2014, we also increased the monthly household income criteria for families seeking SMTA from $1,700 to $1,900, and the threshold for per capita household income was raised from $550 to $650. After 2015, as the full network of 24 SSOs had been set up across the island, the effect of outreach might have tapered off, hence the number of households assisted on ComCare SMTA stabilised, registering a slight decrease of an average of less than 3% per year from FY2015 to FY2018.
3. What is the general trend of households receiving ComCare SCFA from FY2014-FY2018?
The number of households assisted on SCFA has increased steadily by an average of 10% per year from FY2014 to FY2017. In FY2018, we notice a decrease in enrolment of SCFA beneficiaries in community-based student care centres (SCCs). We will continue to monitor the trends.
4. Why was there a decrease in the number of individuals assisted across ComCare schemes from FY2014 to FY2018, even though the number of households on ComCare stabilised?
The decrease in the number of individuals assisted across ComCare schemes is primarily due to a steady decrease of individuals who received interim assistance between FY2014 and FY2018 (i.e. an average of 17% decrease per year).
This may be due to SSOs streamlining processes to expedite the approvals of ComCare cases, hence reducing the need to administer Interim Assistance. Grassroots organisations could be tapping on other funds instead of ComCare to provide immediate financial assistance4; and individuals may have turned to informal support from friends and relatives instead of applying for interim assistance.
5. ComCare helped around 75,200 individuals in FY2018. What assistance is available for other vulnerable groups?
The Government has expanded and strengthened our social safety nets over the years.
As the needs of the low-income or vulnerable groups are often multi-faceted, we have in place multiple layers of government assistance and a network of government and community agencies that provide targeted and customised assistance for individuals or households in need, including the following
- Employment Progressive Wage Model, Enhanced Workfare Income Supplement Scheme, Workfare Training Support (WTS) Scheme
- Retirement Adequacy CPF LIFE, Silver Support Scheme
- Healthcare MediShield Life, CHAS, Pioneer Generation Package, Community Network for Seniors
- Housing Additional CPF Housing Grant, Fresh Start Housing Scheme
- Social safety nets for the most needy ComCare, MediFund
We have also strengthened upstream intervention for vulnerable families and children to set a good foundation. For example
- KidSTART provides holistic support to children from low-income families to enable them to have a good start in life.
- MSF supports MOE’s UPLIFT initiatives to enhance after-school care support for students.
- Community Link provides targeted support to families with children in rental flats.
- Fresh Start Housing Scheme supports low-income families in owning a home again.
We will continue to monitor the trend of households needing help, and work closely with other government agencies and our community partners to provide support and assistance to individuals and families in need.
6. The number and proportion of SMTA main applicants aged 55 and above have been increasing over the last 5 years. What are some of the reasons for this?
The proportion of households headed by persons aged 55 to 64 has increased from 21% in FY2014 to 25% in FY2018.
In line with the increase in SMTA main applicants aged 55 to 64, the proportion of those who were not working increased from 51% in FY2014 to 55% in FY2018, mostly because they were medically unfit or retired. In particular, those who were medically unfit increased from 19% to 22% and those who were retired increased from 12% to 13%.
The Government will continue to provide the necessary assistance and ensure holistic support by linking them up with relevant help agencies, such as Family Service Centres to provide social support, Medical Social Workers for assistance with medical expenses and Workforce Singapore to provide employment assistance for those who are able to work.
7. What is the range of the quantum and duration of ComCare assistance?
The LTA cash rates are as follows
Household Type Current Rates
1-person LTA household: $600
2-person LTA household: $1,000
3-person LTA household: $1,400
4-person LTA household: $1,750
SSOs review the circumstances of LTA households every few years to ensure that the household is coping well. If there are new needs surfaced, SSOs will refer them to relevant community services, such as family services or befriending support.
Unlike the LTA cash assistance, which is a fixed monthly rate, the SMTA cash assistance is intended to provide temporary support and varies according to the household’s needs and income. The amount of assistance each household receives differs. For example, low-income households with existing income from work or rent may need less assistance. For some households, part of the assistance may be credited directly to relevant agencies to offset their household bills, rather than disbursed in the form of cash.
As the needs, profile, and size of each household are different, the quantum and duration of SMTA varies across households.
8. With an ageing population, has there been an increase in the number of elderly assisted by the Government?
Yes. 3,769 elderly main applicants (aged 60 years & above) were assisted on LTA in FY2018, an increase from 3,285 in FY2014. 7,322 elderly main applicants (aged 60 years & above) were assisted on SMTA in FY2018, also an increase from 6,065 in FY2014.
There are various government schemes that support our low-income elderly with different needs. These include
- Silver Support Scheme provides additional support in retirement to Singaporeans who had low incomes through life and who have little or no family support in old age
- Pioneer Generation Package provides healthcare benefits for all Pioneers, for life
- Senior Mobility and Enabling Fund provides subsidies for assistive devices, transport and home healthcare items for seniors to age in place within the community
- MediShield Life Premium Support provides subsidies for MediShield Life premiums
- Community Network for Seniors involves government agencies and community partners teaming up to reach out to seniors, especially those who are low-income or living alone, to help them stay active, socially engaged, and connected to support and health
services where necessary
- Government-funded social services for the elderly, such as Senior Activity Centres and Befriending Programmes.
The number households includes households that benefitted from SMTA, LTA and/or SCFA. The number of individuals includes individuals that benefitted from SMTA, LTA, SCFA and/or Interim Assistance. There is no household-level information for Interim Assistance schemes as these schemes are administered by different community partners to individuals requiring urgent and temporary financial relief.
In FY2018, 37,436 unique households were assisted across ComCare schemes, among which 4,261 households received the Long-Term Assistance, 27,122 households received the Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance, and 7,349 received the Student Care Fee Assistance. Some households may receive assistance from more than one scheme.
These needs include specialised healthcare or hygiene needs, or one-off purchases of essential items
The Interim Assistance Scheme is administered at the various community touch points such as the Family Service Centres (FSCs) and grassroots organisations with the aim of providing quick financial assistance to those with urgent needs.