Singapore Budget 2015: Pay rise of up to 19% for social service professionals this year

SINGAPORE - Social workers and other social service professionals such as psychologists and therapists can expect up to a 19 per cent pay rise this year, in a move to attract and retain staff in these professions.

Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Friday that his ministry will give $16 million more to voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) this year to run their services. The bulk of the increases - $12 million - will go towards workers' salaries to ensure that they are paid competitively. The pay increments will range from 3 to 19 per cent. A junior therapist, for example, will see a 9 per cent increase in salary.

"Our last salary adjustment in 2012 have resulted in a median rise of 8 per cent in salries and we will continue to raise them to meet salary benchmarks," said Mr Chan.

This move, starting from April, will cost MSF $165 million this year, an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to last year.

Another $6 million each year will go to help the charities strengthen their governance and corporate functions such as finance and human resource as they expand and serve more beneficiaries. The new Corporate Development Funding scheme will start in July. Each VWO will get $150,000 to $300,000 a year to hire three to five experienced corporate staff.

Social service fellowships will also be offered later in the year for top professionals, whether early intervention teachers or counsellors, to mentor others and set standards for the sector.

These key initiatives are aimed at meeting the growing demand for social services in a labour-tight sector as the Government steps up its aid to the vulnerable.

The last pay rise for social workers announced by MSF was in 2012 when they were promised a salary increase of up to 15 per cent.

jantai@sph.com.sg