Reduce hassle of applying for social assistance

Singapore aims to become a Smart Nation that is digital and paperless.

With this in mind, the authorities should automate the time-consuming parts of the social service transaction process, such as the collection of the client's details.

Currently, there are instances when social service officers demand printed copies of the individual's Central Provident Fund (CPF) statements and bank statements.

There are also instances when the social service officers were unable to go online to retrieve documents to facilitate an individual's application for financial assistance.

Going forward, social service organisations should build up a Web portal to allow Internet-literate clients to upload documents and submit applications.

The CPF Board may want to work with these organisations and install self-service kiosks dedicated to printing CPF statements at these organisations.

This is so individuals who need hard copies of the statements do not need to spend time travelling to a CPF branch office to get them.

The issuing of NTUC vouchers and travel vouchers can also be made smoother.

Sometimes, social service officers are not forthcoming in giving an ez-link card if the recipient of financial allowance had received travel assistance in the past.

The issuing of NTUC vouchers is also controlled, and clients often have to ask for them.

It should be standard practice to give the vouchers, ez-link card and cash allowance as a package each time a person applies for financial assistance.

I believe no one who is gainfully employed would lower his dignity and ask for financial assistance.

Therefore, I hope the social service organisations can disburse assistance in a more standardised manner and cut the hassle when it comes to submitting documents.

Robinson Fernandez

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2017, with the headline 'Reduce hassle of applying for social assistance'. Print Edition | Subscribe