What are the reasons behind the increase in ComCare numbers?

Govt has extended coverage of assistance to more families & more has been done to reach out to needy.


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There are a number of online articles claiming that poverty in Singapore has reached its worst levels, as more families are receiving ComCare. This is not true.

The number of households on ComCare assistance has been increasing since 2012, and this is due to several factors.

Extended coverage of assistance and increased accessibility of help

In recent years, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has progressively strengthened our social safety nets and extended the coverage of assistance to more families. Since 2014, the Ministry has increased the monthly household income cap for families seeking Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA) from $1,700 to $1,900, and the cap on income per person was raised from $550 to $650. This means that more can apply for help.

In 2013, MSF started rolling out a network of Social Service Offices (SSOs) to provide more accessible and coordinated social assistance to Singaporeans in need. There are now 24 SSOs island-wide, serving specific HDB towns, making help more accessible to vulnerable families.

Changing profile of households seeking assistance

The demographic profile in Singapore has also been changing, and we are seeing trends such as shrinking family sizes and an ageing population.

While there is an increasing number of young households under ComCare SMTA, the percentage of ComCare SMTA households whose main applicant is younger than 35 years old has fallen from 19.5% in FY2012 to 19.1% in FY2015.

There are more households headed by older persons on ComCare, increasing from 11.7% in FY2012 to 13.7% in FY2015.

What is ComCare?

ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA) provides social assistance for low-income individuals and families, who are temporarily unable to work (e.g. due to illness and caregiving responsibilities) or who need temporary financial support while they seek employment. The SSO officer will assess the family’s situation, and may provide assistance such as cash grants or assistance with household bills. The amount and duration of support will depend on the household’s needs and circumstances. Our officers also partner Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to provide clients with employment assistance, or link clients up with community partners to address other family issues.

ComCare Long Term Assistance (also known as the Public Assistance scheme) is targeted at the most needy who are unable to work due to old age, illness or disability, have limited or no means of income, and have little or no family support. The support given includes monthly cash assistance, free medical treatment in polyclinics and government/restructured hospitals and access to government-funded social services such as Senior Activity Centres and befriending services. Recipients may also receive additional assistance for recurring healthcare or hygiene needs, or one-off purchases of essential items. Since 1 July 2016, a one-person household can receive cash assistance of $500 per month (up from $450).

For more information, read the ComCare Annual Report and Trends Report FY2015.

To get the latest updates on this issue, visit the MSF website at www.msf.gov.sg

Source: MSF

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