SINGAPORE - The Tote Board will pump in $580 million to fund critical social service programmes over the next four years, the largest tranche of funds into the Tote Board Social Service Fund since it was set up in 2006.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee announced this in Parliament on Wednesday (March 6), adding: "Sustained funding is crucial to ensure that vulnerable groups continue to receive the support they need.
"It also enables voluntary welfare organisations to focus on delivering services well, expand and develop new programmes to serve growing areas of need."
In its last tranche of funds from its 2016 to 2018 financial year, which ends on March 31, 2019, the Tote Board committed $350 million to the fund. This worked out to $116.7 million a year, compared with $145 million a year for the latest tranche of funds, which starts from April 1.
The last tranche of $350 million supported more than 87,300 beneficiaries annually, from children to seniors to people with disabilities.
For example, the fund has supported early intervention programmes for children with disabilities, and family service centres that offer a range of help services for families.
Since the fund's inception until its 2022 financial year, the Tote Board has pledged $1.56 billion to the fund. The Tote Board is the statutory board that governs lottery operators Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club.
The new tranche of funds will span four years, up from three years previously - giving charities a greater assurance of the continuity of funding.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will also do more to ensure that social service professionals are equipped with the skills and competencies to meet growing and changing social needs, Mr Lee said in response to Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who had asked about efforts in this area.
The MSF launched the Skills Framework for Social Service in January to guide organisations in training and developing their staff. The ministry will build on the framework and set up a Social Service SkillsFuture Tripartite Taskforce to coordinate and drive skills development initiatives in the social service sector.
The task force will comprise members from social service agencies, tertiary educational institutes and government agencies. Members will be appointed in the first half of 2019.