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Government Policy to promote Economic Connectedness

Type: Parliamentary Questions

Topic(s): Children & Family, Other Updates


Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether the Ministry has studied the importance of economic connectedness through cross-class interaction between families of low and high socioeconomic status, in uplifting children from lower income families; and (b) what specific changes in policies have been adopted to take into account such economic connectedness.

Answer:

1.     Social mobility has been a key long-term outcome in the government’s programme to address inequality since independence. As more in our society progress, the government endeavours for society to continue progressing together. Various studies, including the ones cited by the member in a past PQ, suggest that “economic connectedness” supports social mobility. In our public policy design, we also consider how best to promote social interaction – including between different income groups of our society.

2.     In our residential estates, we have actively sought to foster a good mix of socioeconomic groups. We provide common spaces where Singaporeans from all walks of life congregate, such as parks, hawker centres, playgrounds, and sports facilities. We have actively integrated public rental flats with sold flats in the same BTO projects and within the same blocks where possible, including in Prime Location Housing areas, to enable social mixing.

3.     We work to ensure that our schools remain open and accessible to students from different backgrounds. In addition, there are opportunities for students from different schools to interact with one another and with the larger community, such as through co-curricular activities, values-inaction projects, and cluster-based activities and competitions.

4.     We have also sought to increase the social capital of those from lower-income backgrounds through volunteering and mentoring opportunities. Many community partners and volunteers from diverse backgrounds provide services and programmes to lower-income families under our ‘Many Helping Hands’ approach. Through Community Link (ComLink), volunteers are matched to families as befrienders to better understand the families’ needs and aspirations, co-create individualised action plans with them, and match them to relevant schemes, services, and programmes. More recently, we launched Mentoring SG, a national movement to support youth development through mentoring opportunities. Youths, including those from lower-income backgrounds, can be connected to mentors to build their tenacity, soft skills, and knowledge. The close bonds fostered allow for useful information and opportunities to be shared with youths and families.

5.     With targeted programming, connections across socioeconomic backgrounds offer information exchange, mentorship, and job referrals that could shape aspirations and expand opportunities for material improvement.

6.     While the Government can shape diverse environments and channels for interactions between different socioeconomic groups, all of us must play our part to reach across the lines of status and class. In particular, those who are more privileged and better-connected should realise that their success in life is also because of the kind of society we have built. So, we hope they will always step forward to contribute their time, networks, and effort to uplift those with less. We need a whole-ofsociety effort to help lower-income families as they work towards stability, self-reliance, and social mobility.