HDB flats a reasonable gauge of household means

We thank Mr Donny Ho Boon Tiong for his views on the U-Save scheme, which provides utilities rebates to eligible HDB households every quarter (Don't give rebates based on flat sizes, Sept 3).

The current disbursement of U-Save is based on the flat type, as it is a reasonable indicator of household means; empirically, households living in smaller flats are generally less well-off than those living in larger flats.

Apart from U-Save, there are other schemes to help needy Singaporeans, ranging from subsidised healthcare, housing and education to more direct subsidies, like Workfare and Silver Support.

These schemes often have means-testing criteria to ensure that those with less can get more help.

We recognise that no criterion is perfect. Government agencies use a variety of information about an individual or household as an indication of their financial situation.

This may include a mix of criteria such as individual income, household income, number of household members, flat type, and/or annual value of the place of residence.

Our approach allows us to calibrate support to Singaporeans with different needs, across our social schemes.

In addition to the above, Singaporeans with extenuating circumstances can also approach the Social Service Offices for further assistance.

We will continuously review and refine these schemes to keep our overall system of subsidies fair, with more support for households which require more assistance.

Lim Yuin Chien

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Finance

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline 'HDB flats a reasonable gauge of household means'. Print Edition | Subscribe