Lower- and middle-income workers to get extra support under new Covid-19 Recovery Grant

People can start applying for the grant from Jan 18 next year. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Lower- and middle-income workers affected by the pandemic will get more help from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) under a new grant.

Called the Covid-19 Recovery Grant (CRG), the scheme announced on Wednesday (Dec 16) is for those who continue to suffer significant job or income losses despite earlier measures to help workers.

People can start applying for the grant from Jan 18, 2021. Applications will close on Dec 31 next year.

The new grant is different from the existing Covid-19 Support Grant or Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs). Applications for the Covid-19 Support Grant will close by Dec 31, while the Sirs will lapse by year end.

Under the new scheme, two groups of people can get up to $700 a month for three months. These are:

- People who are unemployed due to retrenchment or involuntary contract termination

- People who have been placed on involuntary no-pay leave for at least three consecutive months

The CRG will provide up to $500 a month for three months, for these groups:

- Employees who are facing salary losses of at least 50 per cent on average for at least three consecutive months

- Self-employed persons who are facing an average loss in net trade income (NTI) of at least 50 per cent over a period of at least three consecutive months, compared with their average monthly NTI in 2019 or 2020

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All these losses must have occurred after Jan 23, when the first case of Covid-19 was found in Singapore. They must be present at the point of application.

In its statement on the new scheme, MSF said the grant is aimed at people with a lower household income, as well as those who have suffered more significant income losses.

Applicants must have had a gross monthly household income of $7,800 or less, or a monthly per capita income of $2,600 or less before being affected by Covid-19.

They should have been economically active prior to the onset of the pandemic.

This means employees should have worked for at least six months cumulatively between January 2019 and December this year, while self-employed persons should have declared their NTI in 2019 or 2020.

To qualify for the grant, applicants also need to show proof that they have been searching for jobs or seeking to upgrade their skills through government-linked portals, attending job interviews, or participating in career coaching at specific government-linked career centres.

Self-employed persons may also submit supporting evidence of two attempts to reach out to clients or businesses in the two months before applying for the new grant.

People can apply for the CRG online at MSF's website from 9am to 10pm daily.

Those who need help completing the online application form can call the ComCare Call hotline on 1800-222-0000, or e-mail Ask_SSO@msf.gov.sg

Those who are unable to apply online can visit their nearest social service office for help.

"There is no need to rush to apply," said MSF in a statement on Wednesday. "Applicants should prepare their supporting documents in advance for a smooth application process."

In a separate statement, the Manpower Ministry and National Trades Union Congress also gave an update on Sirs.

Nearly 200,000 self-employed persons have benefited from the scheme, with about $1.8 billion paid out between April and December, they said.

More than half of the beneficiaries were automatically eligible, while the rest successfully applied for the scheme.

Roughly seven in 10 applications processed by the NTUC were approved, as it exercised flexibility in the qualifying criteria, they added.

"The applications which were not approved involved applicants earning much higher incomes, residing in high-value properties or owning two or more properties with their spouses," they said. "Some could not provide evidence that they were self-employed."

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