There are "multiple layers of assistance" for low-income Singaporeans, in areas including education, healthcare, housing, employment and retirement adequacy, says the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
"Broad-based subsidies are available for all, and at the same time, we target more help for those who need it the most," said a spokesman in response to queries from The Sunday Times. "A network of community agencies and partners also support the vulnerable in different areas of need."
Chief among its suite of programmes is ComCare, which disbursed $130 million to about 83,000 beneficiaries in the financial year of 2016. Besides cash, it may also help cover utilities, service and conservancy charges, medical needs and rental fees.
"MSF's Social Service Offices work with the families to address other issues they may be facing, to enable these families to stabilise and where possible, get back on their own feet," said the spokesman.
Here are some of the schemes:
• Mothers working at least 56 hours a month - two to three hours per day - can get a basic subsidy of $300 a month. This is for all Singaporean children. Lower-income and larger families receive more.
• Non-working mothers can get a basic subsidy of $150 per month and those in "extenuating circumstances", such as non-working mothers who have been retrenched, are on course, ill or unfit for work, can apply for extra support.
• From 2012 to 2017, those who received such "means-tested childcare and kindergarten subsidies" doubled to about 45,000 children.
COMCARE LONG-TERM ASSISTANCE
• For individuals unable to work due to old age, illness or disability, have limited or no means of income, and have little or no family support.
• The cash grant, one of several forms of help, ranges from $500 a month for a one-person household to $1,450 for a four-person household.
• $21.34 million disbursed in the 2016 financial year, benefiting 4,387 households and 4,788 individuals.
COMCARE STUDENT CARE FEE ASSISTANCE
• Fee subsidies for children aged between seven and 14 years from low-income families to attend student care centres while their parents are at work.
• Depending on the household income, the subsidy goes up to 98 per cent of student care centre fees - a maximum subsidy of $285. Monthly fees for most of these centres range from $260 to $290.
• $22.22 million disbursed in the 2016 financial year, benefiting 10,170 children.
FRESH START HOUSING SCHEME
• Helps families with at least one child below the age of 16 who live in public rental flats to buy a two-room Flexi Flat. The grant is $35,000 for a 60-or 65-year lease, and will be adjusted downwards for flats with shorter leases.
• At least one of the applicants must have been in stable employment for the previous 12 months and the average gross monthly household income should not exceed $6,000. Families also need to be assessed by the MSF.
• Over 30 families have successfully applied for a flat under the scheme, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong last year.