Reach post-Budget poll shows Singaporeans want more govt support as cost of living rises

Singaporeans hoped for more financial assistance to help with infant care and childcare fees. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans hope for greater government support for middle-income families with children or elderly parents to cushion the impact of the pandemic and rising cost of living, a recent feedback exercise on Budget 2021 by Reach has found.

In particular, they hoped for more financial assistance to help with infant care and childcare fees, as well as education fees in general, the feedback and engagement agency said in a statement on Monday (April 26).

Still, the majority of respondents agreed that the Household Support Package provided additional support for them and their family during this period of economic uncertainty, said Reach.

The Budget 2021 unveiled in February included a $900 million Household Support Package of utility grants, goods and services tax (GST) and cash vouchers. The package also provided top-ups to every Singaporean child's education account.

Respondents of Reach's Budget 2021 feedback and engagement exercise, held in February and March, also gave suggestions such as extending childcare leave entitlement for working parents with more children.

Feedback from more than 5,000 citizens was collected from across different platforms such as a computer-assisted telephone interview poll, dialogues, and Reach's online channels.

More than seven in 10 of the respondents from the telephone poll supported the Budget 2021 announcements, said Reach. Six in 10 felt the announcements had boosted their confidence in Singapore's future.

Six in 10 respondents supported the enhanced SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, which aims to hire 200,000 locals this year, it said.

"To enhance employability and remain competitive in the job market, some hoped that more quality training and upskilling programmes as well as enhanced training grants could be introduced to encourage more Singaporeans to attend courses to acquire industry-relevant skills," said Reach.

Most respondents also agreed that the Government was doing enough to encourage employers to hire local workers during this period, with seven in 10 respondents from the telephone poll agreeing that extending wage subsidies for new Singaporean hires until September this year would encourage firms to do so.

But a "significant number" were concerned that the imposition of the GST on low-value imported goods from e-commerce websites that would take effect in 2023 - meant to help level the playing field for local businesses - would increase costs of living.

As for the Singapore Green Plan 2030, some respondents felt more could be done, although most thought the plan would help to secure a green, liveable and sustainable country for generations of Singaporeans.

There were calls for more initiatives to reduce the amount of waste generated in Singapore and to encourage the use of renewable energy, such as with solar panels.

Reach chairman Tan Kiat How thanked respondents for sharing their feedback and suggestions at the agency's Budget 2021 engagement sessions.

"I am particularly heartened that there were more youth respondents this year and many of them were joining us for the first time. Reach is committed to engage Singaporeans to better understand their views on issues that are close to their hearts," he said.

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