SINGAPORE - About 6,000 lower-income households whose public financial assistance is ending will now have peace of mind as their support will be automatically extended for another six months.
Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said in a Facebook post on Friday (Aug 7) that his ministry is automatically extending the ComCare assistance for existing beneficiaries whose aid would have ended between August and October 2020.
"They would not have to come to our Social Service Office to renew the assistance. However, if their circumstances have changed and they need more help, they can still approach our officers," he added.
This automatic six-month extension was also done several months ago for about 6,000 households whose ComCare assistance ended between May and July.
"Some of our ComCare beneficiaries tell us this extension gives them some peace of mind as they work to uplift themselves and their families," said Mr Masagos.
"The effects of Covid-19 will still be felt for some time to come. This health and economic crisis has especially affected the lower-income and vulnerable members of our society. But I would like to assure Singaporeans that help will continue to be available to them," he said.
Madam Thanaletchimi Karappiah, 57, who lives with her husband, 63, in a one-room rental flat in Jurong East, is a beneficiary whose household's ComCare assistance was automatically extended earlier this year.
She said the extension was a relief for her family. She has been receiving $900 a month under the Short-to-Medium Term Assistance scheme from August to October 2019, and since February this year.
Her husband, who has diabetes and other health issues, has not worked since 2016, while Madam Thanaletchimi has been having severe back pains since last year, resulting in her having to stop her work as a cleaner in December. She is medically certified as unfit to work till October.
The $900 goes a long way for the couple, said Madam Thanaletchimi, who added that they have been receiving free food from Lakeside Family Services during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has helped ease the financial burden.
"I also have to spend the money on bus fare when I go to take care of my daughter and granddaughter who live in Boon Lay," she added. Her daughter, 42, is a single mum to a 16-year-old.
The Straits Times previously reported that amid the coronavirus pandemic, more Singaporeans and permanent residents had been on government financial aid in March and April this year, compared with the same period last year.
Applications approved for the ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance and ComCare Long-Term Assistance schemes increased significantly, figures from the Ministry of Social and Family Development showed.
In March, there were 4,754 approved applications for the schemes, up 18 per cent from March last year.
In April, the number of approved applications rose to 5,020, a 33 per cent increase over April last year.