SINGAPORE - Destitute Singaporeans who are on the ComCare Long-Term Assistance Scheme, also known as the Public Assistance (PA) scheme, can look forward to a higher monthly cash sum.
For instance, a two-person household will receive an extra $130 a month - from $870 to $1,000 a month.
The scheme provides a cash sum each month to destitute persons who cannot work permanently as a result of old age or illness, and have little or no family support.
In the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) last financial year, which ended in March last year, there were 4,409 households on the scheme, with the recipients being mostly elderly singles who live alone.
The scheme was last revised in 2016, when the sums given out to a single person went up from $450 to $500 a month and from $790 to $870 for a two-person household.
The MSF will provide more details during the debate on the ministry’s budget next month (March).
Social workers interviewed welcome the increase in sums to Public Assistance recipients.
Ms Joyz Tan, senior social worker at Fei Yue Family Service Centre, said: “The increase in quantum helps to cushion the impact of inflation to some extent, such as higher food cost.”
Besides the higher sums given out to the PA scheme's recipients, the Government will also increase the sums given out to those on the government pension scheme called Singapore Allowance who draw pensions of less than $1,230 a month.
The Government will raise the allowance and the monthly pension ceiling by $20 each, to $320 and $1,250 a month, respectively. The move will benefit about 9,300 pensioners.
The Public Transport Fund will also be topped up by $10 million. Eligible lower-income families will get vouchers to defray their transport expenses.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat also urged Singaporeans to make a difference, under a national movement called SG Cares to foster a more caring society.
He said: "As our society ages and new needs emerge, we hope everyone will lend a helping hand."
The Government is promoting volunteerism among various groups, such as youths, seniors and among public officers.
For example, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) is working with Youth Corps Singapore to nurture youth community leaders in tertiary education institutes to rally their peers to be involved in the community.
It is also encouraging all public officers to volunteer under the Public Service Cares initiative. Each ministry now has a Giving Ambassador to champion volunteerism where they work. Over 85 per cent of public officers are making monthly donations.
On Monday (Feb 18), Mr Heng cited independent content producer Rose Sivam, 54, who started an initiative to bring people from different backgrounds together, including the less fortunate.
She and her husband Chris Choo, 50, run a private dining outfit from their five-room HDB flat and they want to extend these parties to those who cannot afford it or do not have a chance to attend private dining parties.
Guests to her “My Home, Your Home” initiative have included people with disabilities and dementia patients and they get a free meal and entertainment. Paying guests fork out between $78 and $88 per head.
“Those who came all loved it,” Dr Sivam said. “And the privileged also gained so much - like some did not know wheelchair users can hold full-time jobs or have never seen a visually handicapped person create calligraphy. Their misconceptions have been cleared.”