ComCare disbursement holds steady at S$131m, number of beneficiaries shrinks [TODAY Online]

In total, 39,300 households received ComCare aid.

TODAY Online

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The number of people who received help from the Government's Community Care Endowment Fund (ComCare) fell by nearly 5 per cent to 79,500 last year, even as the amount disbursed went up marginally to about S$131 million.

In total, 39,300 households received ComCare aid and seven in 10 of them (or about 28,000 households) received short- to medium-term assistance.

The number is a slight drop from the previous financial year, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) as it released the ComCare annual report for the April 2017 to March 2018 financial year on Thursday (Oct 4).

RESPITE FROM BEDBUGS

Among those that began receiving short- to medium-term assistance in the last financial year was Madam R, a 37-year-old divorcee with four children aged 11 to 19. They live in her mother's two-room rental flat, which was badly infested by bedbugs.

The family could not rest properly and this affected their performance in school and at work.

Besides the Social Service Office, other organisations such as the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre and Kebun Baru Constituency Office pitched in, said the ministry.

Among other things, a pest-control company was engaged and the family's living condition has improved. Mdm R's youngest child is receiving student-care subsidies, for instance.

Mdm R herself underwent an operation late last year, but has been unable to hold down a job due to other medical issues, said the MSF.
 

GREATER STRAIN ON FAMILY AS FIRST LINE OF SUPPORT

The number of households receiving short- to medium-term ComCare help in the last five years peaked in 2015 — the year that the network of 24 Social Service Offices was fully set up. Since then, the number of households has dipped and "stabilised", said the ministry.

Half of these households last year were headed by persons aged 45 to 64, and the increase in proportion of households with older persons or retirees corresponded with the twin trends of smaller family sizes and an ageing population.

The two trends have put greater strain on the family as the first line of support in society, said the MSF.

More people including elders received long-term aid, which includes monthly cash assistance, free medical treatment at polyclinics and public hospitals, and access to other social services. The number of such households was 4,409 in the 2017 financial year, up from 4,387 in the previous financial year.

Nearly seven in 10 (or 68.7 per cent) of the households on long-term aid were one-person households with individuals aged 65 and above, an increase of the previous year's 62.3 per cent.

More school-going children received student-care fee assistance as well. The figure has gone up from about 6,000 households in 2013, to about 8,400 last year due to the "expansion of places in school-based student care centres", as well as a revision in the income criteria to support more low-income families, the ministry said.

However, the number of individuals on interim assistance went down. These individuals receive relief in the form of cash or supermarket vouchers. The ministry said that this may be due to the shortening of time needed to approve cases, which in turn reduces the need for interim assistance.

Another reason could be that grassroots organisations are tapping other funds apart from ComCare to provide financial aid.

"Individuals may have (also) turned to informal support from friends and relatives instead of applying for interim assistance," said the MSF.
 

KEY TRENDS







(Infographics: Ministry of Social and Family Development)

 

Source: TODAY Online


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