Helping those with low wages save and pay debts

A new scheme to help people on low incomes save money and pay their debts was launched by Methodist Welfare Services yesterday.

Under the Family Development Programme, which aims to help up to 700 beneficiaries a year, two dollars will be matched for every dollar that beneficiaries set aside as savings or to pay off chronic debt, capped at $200 a month.

It will also provide training in basic financial literacy skills such as budgeting, and assist with educational costs, daily living expenses and milk supplements for babies and pregnant women.

"Many of our beneficiaries are unable to plan for the future because of the distress that debt causes, and are unable to save as they are in deficit every month," said MWS group executive director Jenny Bong. "When crises such as illness or sudden unemployment occur, they sink further into debt and desolation."

The charity runs 17 centres and outreach programmes supporting more than 12,000 beneficiaries.

Eligible applicants for the new programme must live in a one- to four-room HDB flat, have a maximum household income of $650 a month and total household savings of up to $10,000.

Applicants can be assessed for eligibility at MWS' three Family Service Centres in Hougang, Yishun and Tampines.

The programme was launched by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at MWS' 35th anniversary dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel yesterday.

Tiffany Fumiko Tay

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Helping those with low wages save and pay debts'. Print Edition | Subscribe