Silver Support letters out from tomorrow

Ms Indranee, seen here with dialogue moderator James Chen, said it is important that grassroots leaders have enough information to explain government support schemes well to residents.
Ms Indranee, seen here with dialogue moderator James Chen, said it is important that grassroots leaders have enough information to explain government support schemes well to residents.PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION

Payouts of between $300 and $750 for low-income seniors will start this month

Low-income seniors who qualify for the Silver Support Scheme will get letters from the Government starting tomorrow, the Ministry of Manpower said yesterday.

Some 140,000 elderly citizens will have the money deposited in their bank account or receive a cheque posted to their home address, a ministry spokesman said.

"Payouts will reach all recipients by the end of the month," he added.

Silver Support is targeted at the bottom 20 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 and above, with a smaller degree of support extended to cover up to 30 per cent of seniors.

It gives them a cash supplement of between $300 and $750 every three months based on flat type, lifetime wages and household support.

The first payout is a double payment covering six months from April to September. Subsequent payouts will be made every three months, from September.

The scheme was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally in 2014 and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat gave details at this year's Budget speech in March.

Yesterday, the scheme featured at a closed-door dialogue held by the People's Association. Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah met 300 grassroots leaders from various constituencies to discuss schemes to help the elderly and ways to explain them better.

The various schemes include the Community Health Assist Scheme, which provides medical and dental subsidies for the middle- and lower-income groups, and the Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund, which subsidises the cost of devices such as wheelchairs and hospital beds.

Some grassroots leaders wanted to know if the Government will introduce more "auto-inclusion" welfare schemes like Silver Support and the Pioneer Generation Package. Under such schemes, the Government determines who is eligible for assistance based on information it already has, like CPF records.

Ms Indranee said this will depend on how the Silver Support Scheme does. Silver Support, she added, was designed to automatically include those who are potential beneficiaries for schemes, but "because they don't know (about them), they don't apply for them".

"So we are trying a new automatic approach where we draw on the information we have and make sure the money gets to them directly."

Another concern grassroots leaders raised was that the Government often puts out the highest amount of grants or subsidies available for a scheme when explaining it.

For instance, people are told that Silver Support will give up to $750 every three months - when many will get an amount that is lower, leading some to feel disadvantaged.

Ms Indranee said agencies often struggle with how much information to give, as "the more detail you put out, the more a person has to remember, the more confusing it is".

Hence, she added, it is important that grassroots leaders have enough information to explain the policies well to residents.

Public agencies could come up with bite-sized notes for grassroots leaders that would give potential recipients an idea of how much they stand to receive, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Silver Support letters out from tomorrow'. Print Edition | Subscribe