Singapore Budget 2017: 3 measures to support families, including higher housing grant for some couples

The Government announced more measures to support families during the Budget speech on Feb 20, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In line with its vision of building a caring and inclusive society, the Government announced more measures to support families during Monday's Budget speech. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the goal is to "keep Singapore a great place for families".

Here are some measures he announced:

1. More subsidies for first-timer couples buying resale flats

Couples who are looking to buy a resale HDB flat, and are first-time home-buyers, will receive more grants . Previously capped at $30,000, the CPF Housing Grant has been raised to $50,000 for those who are purchasing four-room flats or smaller from the resale market, and to $40,000 for those buying five-room flats or bigger. The change takes place with immediate effect.

Together with the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Proximity Housing Grant (PHG), such couples can now receive up to $110,000 in subsidies. The AHG gives applicants up to $40,000, for those whose combined incomes are $5,000 and below, while the PHG provides up to a further $20,000 for those who live near their parents.

This measure will cost the Government an additional $110 million a year.

2. More centre-based infant care places

The Government will also increase the capacity of centre-based infant care to 8,000 by 2020. This is to meet growing demand, Mr Heng said. Currently, only 4,000 infants - or 8 per cent of all children under the age of 18 months here - are enrolled in such centres.

This is in line with the Government's efforts to provide more help to parents with young children. Over the last five years, the Government has increased childcare spaces by over 40 per cent to about 140,000 places. This serves about half the children between 18 months and six years of age.

3. Enhanced bursaries for those attending post-secondary education institutions

The annual bursary amounts for those attending post-secondary education institutions like junior college or ITE will be increased.

This will go up to $400 more for undergraduate students, up to $350 for diploma students and up to $200 for ITE students. Mr Heng said existing bursaries "already more than cover" the course fees for ITE students.

The income eligibility criteria to receive such bursaries will also be revised, and about 12,000 more Singapore students are expected to benefit, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 71,000. In total, the cost of such beneficiaries will increase from about $100 million to $150 million.

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