Budget 2013: Four new social service offices by year-end

Four new social service offices will be set up in Housing Board towns such as Kreta Ayer, Jalan Besar, Jurong West and Bukit Panjang-Choa Chu Kang by the end of this year, said Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Thursday.

He said the neighbourhoods were chosen first based on the caseloads of these areas, the demographics and the "needs of the local community".

The social assistance units at the five existing Community Development Centres (CDCs), which mainly disburses financial aid, will also be converted to social service offices by year-end.

These new social service offices, which will total 20 over the next few years, are aimed at enabling the needy to get help from a one-stop centre located closer to their homes. Currently, those who need help go to CDCs to apply for financial aid, but they are referred to other agencies, such as Family Service Centres for counselling or Voluntary Welfare Organisations for befriending services.

Residents find the current process confusing and laborious, having to go to multiple agencies in different places and repeat their stories. Others do not know where to turn to for help and fall through the cracks.

With these offices, they can not only get financial assistance but have their other needs assessed holistically. If they need other support services, the offices will work with different help and government agencies to direct them to services that are available near their homes.