Freelance and delivery drivers, riders to receive up to $300 under NTUC scheme

More than 1,000 drivers and riders are expected to benefit from the scheme. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Freelance and delivery drivers or riders here who are members of two associations stand to receive up to $300 in cash to cushion the impact of higher fuel prices on their livelihoods, NTUC said on Wednesday (Aug 24).

The NTUC Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit Relief Scheme is expected to benefit freelance combi bus and limousine drivers who are members of the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA), as well as delivery drivers and motorcycle riders who are members of the National Delivery Champions Association (NDCA).

The scheme was first launched last year and this is its second iteration.

More than 1,000 drivers and riders are expected to benefit from the scheme, which will be managed by the labour movement's freelancers and self-employed unit, said the National Trades Union Congress in a statement.

Those eligible can apply from Monday (Aug 29) until Oct 28 online at this website.

Eligibility and payout amount will be determined by length of membership in either association, and type of vehicle used for work, and the cash will only be disbursed upon application.

The maximum payout of $300 is reserved for existing NPHVA or NDCA members of more than three months to the date they submit their application.

They must either be freelance drivers who drive limousines or combi buses of up to 13 seats, or delivery drivers who use a vehicle other than a motorcycle for deliveries.

Delivery riders who are existing NDCA members of more than three months will receive $150.

New members who have been with the associations for less than three months will receive $50 less in relief under the respective category for which they qualify - that is, either $250 or $100.

Applicants must also have paid their membership dues, be in the trade for at least one month prior to submitting their application, and not be recipients of the one-off relief of $150 for eligible taxi main hirers and private hire car drivers provided by the Government.

Furthermore, freelance drivers must also hold a valid vocational license.

Applicants will be required to provide supporting documents such as proof of trade income, proof of vehicle type, proof of work activity and self-employed status.

Drivers and riders who require help to apply online can approach physical help desks, the locations of which will be available on the same webpage.

Drivers and motorcycle riders who meet the eligibility criteria but are not NPHVA or NDCA members may apply for the scheme by signing up to be an NPHVA or NDCA member.

They can proceed to apply for the scheme once notified their membership application has been successful.

The NPHVA is a NTUC-affiliated association that was set up in May 2016, while the NDCA, also NTUC-affiliated, was set up in December 2020.

The scheme is part of the $1.5 billion support package announced in June to provide targeted relief for lower-income and more vulnerable groups, said the labour movement.

"All applicants would be notified on the outcome of application within six to eight weeks.

"Successful applicants will receive their cash relief in two to four weeks after receiving notification of application approval," NTUC said.

One driver who will benefit from the scheme is Mr Mohamed Idrus Yahya, 52, who has driven a combi bus for eight years.

The father of two daughters, who are university students, is the sole breadwinner in the family. He has been feeling the pinch of increased fuel spending.

A member of the NPHVA for five years, he has seen his take-home income decline to under $4,000 a month now, from $7,000 before the pandemic, with the double whammy of both decimated business and higher fuel expenses, from $1,000 to $1,300 a month.

“The savings (from the payout under the scheme) will help so that the fuel doesn’t eat into costs that much and I can bring my family out to a nice dinner,” he said.

Mr Jasmi Md Nor, 63, has been a freelance delivery driver for over a year, and a private-hire driver for six years, but he has not signed up to join either the NPHVA or NDCA.

He used to earn $70 to $80, after deducting car rental and petrol, for every 10 trips before the pandemic, but that sum has now dipped to under $50, as his daily fuel stops have increased from $70 each day to $110 – making the payout and other benefits of membership more appealing now.

“This NTUC initiative seems to be worthwhile for recovering back some of the petrol cost, and maybe I will soon join the association.”

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