Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Scheme pays out $360m to self-employed

Over 100,000 who automatically qualified receive $3,000 each in first tranche of income relief

Food-delivery riders queueing up to pick up their orders at a shopping mall on Tuesday. People eligible for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme will receive three quarterly payouts of $3,000 each, with the next two payments in July and Octo
Food-delivery riders queueing up to pick up their orders at a shopping mall on Tuesday. People eligible for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme will receive three quarterly payouts of $3,000 each, with the next two payments in July and October.PHOTO: REUTERS

A scheme to support the self-employed amid the virus outbreak has paid out around $360 million.

More than 100,000 people who had automatically qualified for the scheme received a payout of $3,000 each under the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs) on Wednesday.

A further 17,000 applicants who had not met the eligibility criteria to auto-qualify are expected to receive payments from today.

Other batches of successful applicants will be notified as well, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said yesterday.

People eligible for Sirs will receive three quarterly payouts of $3,000 each, with the next two payments in July and October.

People who do not receive a notification by the end of this week are not automatically eligible and should submit their applications to NTUC.

Successful applicants will receive all three payouts regardless of when they applied.

They will generally receive a response from NTUC within a month of submitting their applications.

Self-employed musician Ariela Koh, 28, was one of the 17,000 successful applicants.

Her income is derived mainly from performances and conducting percussion lessons, but it has fallen by more than 70 per cent amid cancellations since the circuit breaker began on April 7.

"I was planning to have my wedding next year and apply for my Built-To-Order flat," she said.

Ms Koh, who has taken some side jobs in the meantime, said the "difficult season has taught (me) a lot about perseverance and diligence", adding that the Sirs assistance resembled "a light shining through".

In addition to the Sirs payments, MOM said that around $50 million will be paid out under the enhanced Work-Life Grant to help firms implement work-from-home and staggered-hours arrangements.

Companies can get $2,000 per worker on daily work-from-home arrangements for at least a month, with a cap of $70,000.

More than 2,700 applications have been received in the past month, with applications closing next Monday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2020, with the headline 'Scheme pays out $360m to self-employed'. Subscribe