Make HDB's schemes for elderly to get cash from flat more simple, accessible: Panel

Make schemes to help senior citizens get cash out of their flats simpler and more accessible, said experts at an Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) session on Wednesday. Over 10 property and social welfare experts spoke out about how to reach out to the elderly and whether new options should be considered.

Experts noted that the current terms and concepts were often hard for the elderly to understand and more effort could be made to simplify them. Other concerns raised during the session included whether taking up HDB's schemes would mean sacrificing other benefits which lower-income groups got from having no income.

Currently, the three main options for the elderly are to rent out their flats, opt for the Housing Board's (HDB) Silver Housing Bonus or HDB's Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme.

Under the Silver Housing Bonus, a senior citizen who sells his flat and moves to a smaller one can get a $20,000 cash bonus from the Government, if he tops up his CPF retirement account with part of the net proceeds. Under the Lease Buyback scheme, those living in a three-room or smaller flat can sell part of the lease of their flat back to HDB for some retirement income, and while continuing to live in the same flat for the next 30 years. One other concern that was raised during the session was what would happen to seniors who outlive the 30 years they are given if they opt for the Lease Buyback scheme.