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Singapore Budget 2014: Greater education and transport subsidies for Singaporeans with disabilities

Published on Feb 21, 2014 5:48 PM
 
A wheelchair user at the Handicap Welfare Association. Singaporeans with disabilities will receive bigger subsidies for their education and transport costs, said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament on Friday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

Singaporeans with disabilities will receive bigger subsidies for their education and transport costs, said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament on Friday.

Delivering the Budget statement, he announced that more middle-income households that have family members with disabilities will benefit from Government help.

They will get a further 20 to 50 per cent subsidy for the early education of their children with special needs, through the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC).

This is on top of an enhanced $500 base subsidy that benefits all Singaporean children enrolled in an early intervention programme, he said.

For a middle-income household with a per capita monthly income of $1,875, this would mean halving their monthly education costs - from $600 previously to less than $300 per month, depending on the services required by their child.

Lower-income households will also enjoy a reduction in their monthly expenses. They will pay a monthly fee of as low as $3, down from $50 today, Mr Tharman said.

"For children with special needs, access to early intervention in the form of therapy and educational support services helps greatly in developing their potential and their ability to be independent," he said.

"However, it is resource-intensive and therefore costs more, which places a higher strain on the finances of families with such children."

The Government will also offer subsidies to Singaporeans with disabilities who need dedicated transport services. They will have up to 80 per cent of their transport costs paid for by the state.

This will apply to households in the lower two-thirds of income earners across Singapore, Mr Tharman said.

The Government will also introduce a new Taxi Subsidy Scheme that covers up to half the cost of disabled people who rely on taxis to travel.

These new transport cost initiatives will be on top of the 25 per cent discount on public transport fares that the Government announced in January for people with disabilities.

For more news and analysis on Singapore Budget 2014, click here for ST's Big Story coverage.