Relook housing type as means-testing criterion

I am very happy to know that the new generation of MPs dare to challenge the status quo and are in tune with the needs of the people who have voted them into office.

In the Budget debate, they have raised the problems of using housing type and size as criteria to determine eligibility for the various financial handouts and assistance schemes ("When the little details matter as much"; Wednesday).

In the past, it was correct to assume that people living in bigger flats and in private estates were more well off. So, housing type was used as one of the criteria for financial assistance schemes.

But increasingly, people living in bigger homes can actually be earning less than those living in two- or three-room flats.

For example, some of these bigger homes may have been purchased long ago, and residents' income situations may have changed since.

Some may have retired, with no more income and little savings. And it is actually not a simple matter to downgrade one's home.

So, continuing to use housing type as means-testing for financial schemes, subsidies and handouts may not be very accurate now.

Changing the criteria for means-testing may be a complex affair, but I hope the new team of leaders will have the courage to challenge the status quo to improve matters for the people.

Lim Tong Wah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'Relook housing type as means-testing criterion'. Print Edition | Subscribe