Those who need help can now apply online for ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance

Previously, those looking to apply for the assistance scheme would need to visit a social service office to do so. PHOTO: MASAGOS ZULKIFLI/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - From Tuesday (May 17), Singaporeans who need financial help to meet basic needs will be able to apply for the ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) scheme online.

Previously, individuals or families looking to apply for the assistance scheme would need to visit one of the 24 social service offices here to do so.

Announcing the move in a Facebook post on Tuesday, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said moving the applications online will help to save travelling time and boost convenience.

ComCare applicants will also be able to tap Myinfo, the Government's one-stop data platform, to fill in their personal information automatically, submit documents and keep track of their application status.

Applications can be made via the SupportGoWhere portal.

Those who need help with the online application can call the ComCare Call hotline on 1800-222-0000, e-mail Ask_SSO@msf.gov.sg, or visit their nearest social service office.

Said Mr Masagos: "This is a part of MSF (Ministry of Social and Family Development) Singapore's efforts to bring assistance closer to individuals and families in a more comprehensive, convenient and coordinated manner."

In March, MSF said that online applications for the SMTA scheme would start by this quarter.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong later announced in April that at least six months of support will be given to new SMTA clients who submit their applications between April and September this year. This move is to help lower-income households cope with rising prices.

Those already on the temporary financial support scheme can also have their assistance extended for at least another three months.

Under the SMTA scheme, beneficiaries may receive monthly cash assistance, assistance with their household bills, medical assistance at public healthcare institutions and/or employment assistance to tide them over temporary periods of difficulty.

Only Singapore citizens and permanent residents with at least one immediate household member who is a citizen can apply for the scheme.

MSF's guidelines on its website state that an applicant's household income should be $1,900 a month and lower, or have a per capita household income of $650 a month and lower. Those whose incomes exceed this can still go to social service offices for help.

Applicants need to submit their latest utility bill, service and conservancy charges bill, bank statements and other relevant documents, according to MSF's website.

During the debate on his ministry's budget in March, Mr Masagos said the Government has taken a major effort to bring assistance closer to families who need financial help, for instance, by streamlining processes and facilitating data sharing.

The ministry will put together a schemes bundle to strengthen support for ComCare families with schoolgoing children so that once their applications are approved, they will not need to submit separate applications to access other support schemes, such as the Ministry of Education's financial assistance scheme.

"Many low-income families are often time-strapped, having to juggle multiple needs and demands. We do not want this to become a barrier for them to seek assistance," Mr Masagos said in March.

"We have made a fundamental shift in our paradigm. Instead of waiting for clients to turn up at our offices, we want to turn up at their doors."

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