ComCare assistance hit $131m in 2017

More households headed by the elderly became beneficiaries.

ComCare cash assistance inched up 0.77% to $131m in FY2017, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) revealed. About 79,500 beneficiaries benefited across different schemes, compared to the 83,000 that were assisted with $130m cash disbursement in FY2016.

ComCare aids low-income households mainly through schemes such the Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA), Long-Term Assistance (LTA), and Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) schemes.

“Helping and uplifting our fellow Singaporeans in need is an ongoing and collective effort,” social and family development minister Desmond Lee said. “For families with more complex needs, we are partnering closely with government and community agencies to better coordinate and integrate our delivery of social services.”

About 70% or 28,000 of the 39,300 households on ComCare were given SMTA, aiding them with temporary assistance as they ‘tide over difficult times and regain stability’.

According to the MSF, the proportion of households on SMTA headed by persons aged 55 to 64 increased from 19% in FY2013 to 24% in FY2017.

“The number of households assisted on ComCare SMTA stabilised in FY2016 and FY2017 likely due to the completion of the Social Service Offices (SSO) network,” MSF said.

Since July 2014, MSF increased the monthly household income cap for families seeking SMTA from $1,700 to $1,900. Meanwhile, the cap on income per household member was raised from $550 to $650.

It was in 2013 when the ministry launched a network of SSOs to provide more accessible and coordinated social assistance to Singaporeans in need.

“By 2015, we had set up the full network of 24 SSOs across the island,” the ministry explained. “The number of households assisted on ComCare SMTA stabilised in FY2016 and FY2017 likely due to the completion of the SSO network.”

Meanwhile, 4,400 households received LTA back in FY2017 which is a 24% increase from the 3,600 families that received it back in FY2013. More than half (79%) of the family recipients were headed by senior citizens.

The LTA provides a package of support for individuals who are unable to work due to old age, illness or disability, and have little or no family support. Beneficiaries receive monthly cash assistance, free medical treatment in polyclinics and government/restructured hospitals, additional assistance for specialised needs, and access to government-funded social services such as Senior Activity Centres and befriending services.

With the increase of school-based student care centres paired with the expansion in the income criteria for SCFA to support more low-income families with their student care fees, households assisted under SCFA grew 40% to 8,400 from 6,000 in FY2017.

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