Covid-19 aid: Bigger cash payouts for families; freeze on government fees, school loans and late payment charges

Parents with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and below this year will each get an additional $300 in cash. Earlier, it was announced they would get $100 more. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Families will get help to pay their bills and expenses during this uncertain period of the coronavirus pandemic, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (March 26).

Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, revealed in his Supplementary Budget steps that included freezing fees for government service and giving more support to struggling families for groceries and other expenses.

Here are the key measures.

1. Families to get more payouts

The Care and Support package first announced in Mr Heng's Feb 18 Budget will be significantly enhanced.

Cash payouts for all Singaporeans will be tripled.

Those who were supposed to get $300 will now get $900; those who were getting $200 will now get $600; and those who were getting $100 will get $300.

The higher payouts go to those who earn less.

Parents with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and below this year will each get an additional $300 in cash. Earlier, it was announced they would get $100 more.

As announced earlier, all Singaporeans aged 50 and above this year will get a $100 PAssion Card top-up. Mr Heng said the top-up will now be done in cash instead to avoid the need to queue at top-up stations.

Eligible Singaporeans aged 21 and above will get $300 in grocery vouchers for this year, up from $100 announced earlier, and on top of $100 more next year.

With these measures, a young family will now get about $2,900 instead of $1,300 under the Care and Support package. A three-generation family will get about $6,700 instead of $1,800.

2. Government charges frozen

The Government will freeze all fees and charges for its services for one year from April 1.

For all graduates who took up government loans for university or polytechnic studies, their loan repayment and interest charges will be suspended for a year from June 1.

Late payment charges on Housing Board mortgage arrears will be suspended for three months.

3. Self-help groups get more support

Grants for self-help groups will be doubled to $20 million over two years, while community development councils will get $75 million, from $20 million, in additional funds.

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4. Needy families, lower-income workers

There will also be a flat payout of $3,000 for all lower-income workers and self-employed people aged 35 and above in 2019 who received Workfare payouts that work year.

Mr Heng will also set aside $145 million to help the unemployed through the social service offices (SSOs) and community centres. This will include greater flexibility for ComCare applications, and a temporary relief fund to be set up in April for families that need urgent help.

A new Covid-19 Support Grant will also be administered by the SSOs from May to September. This will give $800 per month for three months for those who lost their jobs while they find new work or seek training.

Additional reporting by Goh Yan Han

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