Ms Sylvia Lim asked asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) in the last three months, what proportion of applicants for ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) have been rejected; and (b) in light of higher costs of living, whether the Ministry will consider adjusting the threshold criteria for household eligibility for ComCare SMTA.
1 ComCare provides assistance to low-income households for their basic living expenses. Households that need help to tide over temporary financial difficulty are provided with ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA).
2 The rejection rate for SMTA applications made in the most recent three months was about 35%, based on latest available figures. This is similar to the rejection rate of 34% for SMTA applications made in 2021.
3 ComCare’s eligibility criteria is based on income, not on expenditure. The income eligibility criterion for ComCare SMTA is not a hard threshold to qualify for assistance. Rather, our Social Service Offices assess the ComCare applicants’ needs holistically, and exercise flexibility where needed, to provide the necessary assistance. Furthermore, MSF reviews the ComCare income criteria regularly, and will be reviewing it again later this year.
4 The government has been rolling out the Household Support Package announced at Budget 2022. These include the $100 Community Development Council Vouchers and the additional GST Voucher - U-Save rebates, which will help all households manage cost of living pressures.