Singapore Budget 2017: First-timer couples to get more subsidies when buying resale flats

Minister Heng Swee Keat has announced an increase in subsidies for those who buy their first HDB home from the resale market. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - First-timer couples who need a resale Housing Board flat will get more subsidies to do so, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Budget statement on Monday (Feb 20).

The CPF Housing Grant, previously capped at $30,000, has been raised to $50,000 for couples who purchase four-room flats or smaller from the resale market, and to $40,000 for those who buy flats that are five-room or bigger.

The change takes place "with immediate effect", he said.

Together with the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Proximity Housing Grant (PHG), such couples can now receive up to $110,000 in subsidies.

The AHG gives applicants up to $40,000, depending on their income, while the PHG provides up to a further $20,000 for those who live near their parents.

The measure will cost the Government an additional $110 million a year.

Mr Heng said that while most couples apply for highly subsidised Build-to-Order flats, some have to turn to the resale market.

"For others, a resale flat may better meet their needs. Some may wish to live near their parents. Some may prefer to move earlier into their own home," he said.

He added that other eligible first-timers will also benefit from grant enhancements, and that young families get even more help to purchase their first home. These details would be announced later.

The Government will also increase the capacity of centre-based infant care to 8,000 by 2020 to meet growing demand, Mr Heng said. Currently, there are about 4,000 infants enrolled in such centres - 8 per cent of all infants in Singapore.

It will also increase the annual bursary amounts for those attending post-secondary education institutions like junior college or ITE, he said.

This will be up to $400 more for undergraduate students, up to $350 for diploma students and up to $200 for ITE students. He added that existing bursaries "already more than cover" the course fees for ITE students.

The income eligibility criteria to receive such bursaries will also be revised, and about 12,000 more Singapore students are expected to benefit, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 71,000.

In total, the cost of such beneficiaries will increase from about $100 million to $150 million.

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