Singapore Budget 2017: 7 things about Budget plans for disabled, mental health issues

Wheelchair users shop in a supermarket with lower shelves at Enabling Village.
Wheelchair users shop in a supermarket with lower shelves at Enabling Village.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - People with disabilities will be given additional help to better integrate into the workforce, and their caregivers will also receive aid, the Government announced on Monday (Feb 20).

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the Government's third Enabling Masterplan - a five-year national plan for supporting this group - in his Budget 2017 speech.

His speech also touched on initiatives to help those with mental health conditions, as well as more support for community sports and cultural causes.

Here are seven things to know about the new initiatives.

1. Disabled persons and their caregivers included in three-pronged plan

The third Enabling Masterplan will take a three-pronged approach towards taking care of the disabled: Employment support, caregiver support and an increase of spending on initiatives to support those with disabilities.

The Government will spend about $400 million per year on initiatives supporting people with disabilities.

2. More can access training programmes as part of job preparation

Currently, only higher-functioning graduands from Special Education schools are matched to special training programmes as part of job preparation.

Under the additional employment support announced in the Budget speech, those with moderate intellectual and multiple disabilities will also have access to these training programmes.

3. A Disability Caregiver Support Centre will be set up for caregivers

Caregivers will also be given support under Budget 2017. A Disability Caregiver Support Centre will be set up to support caregivers.

Caregivers can visit the centre for information, planned respite, training and peer support groups.

The centre will also work with Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to pilot programmes for caregivers of newly diagnosed people with disabilities.

4. Mental health services to be available at polyclinics

It will be easier for those with mental health issues to get care, as mental healthcare services will be provided in polyclinics.

VWOs will be tapped on to set up more community-based teams to help those in need, as well as increase public education on mental health issues.

The Government will spend an additional $160 million in the next five years on mental health issues.

5. More Dementia Friendly Communities to be set up

In 2016, the Ministry of Health launched Dementia Friendly Communities in Hong Kah North, Macpherson and Yishun. The communities are home to networks of residents, businesses and services trained to look out for and help those with dementia symptoms.

More such communities will be set up. The National Council for Social Services will also lead efforts to integrate those with mental health issues into the workplace and in society.

6. More than $50 million set aside to support community sports

More than $50 million has been set aside to support community sports. The Sports-In-Precinct Programme, which allows Singaporeans to play sports near their homes, will be expanded.

The SportCares Programme, which encourages disadvantaged young people to discover their strengths through sports, will also be expanded.

An additional $50 million in grants will also be committed over five years, to help aspiring athletes.

Another $50 million will be provided to match sports donations dollar-for-dollar.

7. Government to top up Cultural Matching Fund dollar-for-dollar

Other than sports, cultural activities such as visiting museums and attending performances will receive a boost in funding.

The Cultural Matching Fund, which currently provides dollar-for-dollar matching for donations to cultural institutions, will be topped up by $150 million.

Since the fund was implemented in 2014, about $150 million has been committed.

Donations to arts and heritage causes have more than doubled.