Singapore Budget 2017: 5 things you need to know about the household support measures

HDB flats in Bishan on Jan 20, 2017. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Over $850 million in additional funds will be dispensed by the Government this year to help households cope with their expenses.

This includes a permanent increase in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) voucher Utilities-Save (U-Save) voucher rebate, as well as a personal income tax rebate.

Here's what you need to know about the household support measures announced in this year's Budget.

1. Personal income tax rebate

A 20 per cent personal income tax rebate will be given to taxpayers for their income earned in 2016.

It will be capped at $500, with the rebate expected to cost the Government $385 million.

2. GST U-Save voucher rebate

To help lower-income families cope with the increase in water prices, there will be a permanent increase in the annual GST U-Save voucher given to eligible HDB households.

The increase will range from $40 to $120, with families living in one and two-room flats getting the maximum rebate of $380.

With the higher rebates, it is estimated that 75 per cent of all HDB households will see an average increase of less than $12 in their monthly water expenses.

About 880,000 HDB households will benefit from the rebates, which will set the Government back an additional $71 million each year.

3. GST voucher - cash special payment

This one-off payment of up to $200 will be given out to eligible recipients - Singaporeans aged 21 years and above with assessable income of $28,000 or less last year - in November for the second year running. The amount received will depend on the annual value of their homes as at Dec 31 last year (2016).

It is in addition to the regular GST cash voucher typically given out in August. In total, eligible Singaporeans stand to receive up to $500 in cash this year.

The cash special payment will cost about $280 million and benefit more than 1.3 million Singaporeans.

4. Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebate

About 880,000 HDB households will benefit from an extension to the S&CC rebate, which will also be raised by half a month across all flats.

Depending on the size of their flats, eligible households stand to receive 1.5 to 3.5 months of rebates.

This year's rebate will cost the Government $120 million.

5. Top-ups to funds

A $1.5 billion top-up will be made to the GST Voucher Fund so as to support the increase in GST U-Save voucher payments.

Medifund will be topped up by $500 million to bring the total fund size to $4.5 billion. According to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Medifund utilisation had increased by an average of 9 per cent per year from FY2013 to FY2015.

Finally, to support needy families and individuals, the Government will top up the ComCare Fund by $200 million.

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