SINGAPORE - Each low-income family on the Community Link (ComLink) programme will get customised help to address the issues and problems it faces, enabling those in need to better their lives.
The programme, which provides comprehensive and coordinated support for families with children living in highly subsidised Housing Board rental flats, will have an "action plan" to address the specific needs, aspirations and challenges of each family.
Dedicated and trained befrienders will be matched to each family to support it. These befrienders will help families connect with various community groups and government agencies, so that they can get timely and holistic assistance.
In his Budget speech on Friday (Feb 18), Finance Minister Lawrence Wong laid out the Government's efforts to boost social support for Singaporeans, especially for low-income families.
He also highlighted the need for closer coordination and integration of social services as the problems faced by needy families are often multifaceted and interconnected.
He said: "For example, a child could be absent from school because of employment or health issues faced by his or her parents. In such cases, it is not enough to provide financial assistance.
"We also need to address the underlying issues faced by the family and support them in taking steps to achieve sustainable change."
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will scale up the ComLink programme. Details will be announced during the debate on MSF’s budget plans.
Last year, MSF announced that the ComLink programme would be expanded nationwide to 21 towns over two years to cover all 14,000 families with children who live in HDB rental flats.
Mr Wong said the Government has been doing more to strengthen its social compact with Singaporeans over the years and across many different areas.
This includes investing heavily in education as a social leveller and introducing new pillars of support - the Community Care Endowment Fund (ComCare Fund), Workfare Income Supplement Scheme and Silver Support Scheme.
The ComCare Fund offers financial aid to the needy, while Workfare tops up the wages of lower-income workers. The Silver Support Scheme tops up the retirement income of the bottom one-third of Singaporean seniors.
He said: "But as new stresses emerge and as we enter a more volatile and unpredictable environment, we will take further steps to strengthen the architecture of social security and opportunity for all Singaporeans."
In particular, he pledged that the Government will continue to boost social mobility and ensure that all Singaporeans have the chance to do well for themselves, regardless of their background.
Mr Wong also touched on previously announced plans to scale up programmes for children from needy families.
The KidStart programme, where parents from low-income families are guided to support their child's development from birth, will be scaled up nationwide progressively.
The programme is on track to support 5,000 children by next year.
The Uplift Community Network will become a nationwide effort to benefit more students as the pilot has shown positive results, with school attendance improving for most of those on the programme.
Under this programme, students from disadvantaged families are linked to social service agencies and befrienders who will mentor them, among other things.
Correction note: An earlier version of this article stated that the Silver Support Scheme tops up the retirement income of the bottom 20 per cent of Singaporean seniors. This has been corrected. We are sorry for the error.