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Committee of Supply: Ministry of National Development

05 Mar 2020 4 min read

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Public housing will become more affordable and easier to apply for, with new housing support, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said. More balance flats to be offered for open booking earlier.

Speaking during his Committee of Supply speech, Mr Wong said that the Housing & Development Board (HDB) will scrap the standalone Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercise, with immediate effect to help home buyers get flats more quickly.

All unsold Build-To-Order (BTO) flats will first be offered through Sale of Balance Flats exercises, and those that remain unselected will be directly offered for open booking, instead of going through another round of balloting.

Ways of applying for a HDB flat

Sales mode Frequency per year Typical waiting time
BTO (Build-To-Order) 4 times (Feb, May, Aug, Nov) 3-4 years (2-3 years for flats with shorter waiting time)
SBF (Sale of Balance Flats) 2 times (May, Nov) 2 months – 1 year plus
Open booking (New) Year-round* 2-5 months

*Except for about two weeks, twice a year, for injection of fresh flat supply

More grants for seniors

Mr Wong also announced improvements to existing schemes that aim to help more seniors monetise their flats to fund their retirement.

Silver Housing Bonus Scheme

The Silver Housing Bonus – which gives seniors up to S$20,000 cash bonus when they downgrade from a larger flat to a smaller one – will be simplified and enhanced.

To qualify for the Silver Housing Bonus

Previous Now
Seniors are required to top up their Central Provident Fund (CPF) Retirement Account (RA) with the sales proceeds which could amount to more than S$60,000   Seniors are required to top up their CPF RA with only a flat sum of $60,000, with no other top-ups required
Seniors must sell a larger flat and move into a smaller one   Seniors can sell any existing flat as long as they buy a three-room or smaller flat
Cash Bonus
$20,000   $30,000
$1 bonus for every S$3 topped-up to CPF RA   $1 bonus for every S$2 topped up to CPF RA

Lease Buyback Scheme

The Lease Buyback Scheme, which allows flat owners aged 65 and above to sell part of their leases back to the HDB, will be enhanced – the bonus will be increased by 50 per cent, up to a maximum of $30,000.

The enhancements will take immediate effect, and will also apply to those who have applied for either scheme but have not received their bonus.

Cash Bonus for Lease Buyback Scheme

Flat Type Previous Now
3-room or smaller $20,000 $30,000
4-room $10,000 $15,000
5-room or larger $5,000 $7,500

Assisted living for seniors

Seniors will soon be able to purchase flats with care services. 

About 160 units in Bukit Batok will be piloted in May this year.

Flats will be sized at 32 square metres, with senior-friendly features like larger bathrooms, and a layout that can be easily configured for mobility needs, Mr Wong said. 

More details about the flats will be shared in the coming weeks, including the sales conditions, indicative flat prices and the payment options, he added.

Support for unwed single parents

Unwed parents will have more flats to choose from. HDB will allow those who are aged 21 and above to buy up to a 3-room flat in a non-mature estate, in addition to resale flats.

He said that for those who have insufficient finances and need a place to stay, HDB will continue to consider them for public rental if it is in the child’s best interests.

“We do want to ensure that children have a stable home to grow up in. So we will assist all unwed parents who approach HDB with their housing needs,” he added.

Housing type that unwed single parents aged 21 and above could purchase

Previous Now
Two-room flexi flat in non-mature estates^     Three-room flat in non-mature estates
Resale flat^ Resale flat

^ Case-by-case basis for unwed parents aged 21 to 34

New model for BTO flats in prime locations

Mr Wong also said his ministry will share more details in the coming year on a new model for BTO flats in prime locations – to sell such flats at more affordable prices but impose tighter conditions.

“This is a major change that has to be carefully studied as it will also have an impact on the resale market, he added.

$30,000 grant for residents who need to move to flats with direct lift access

Residents living in HDB blocks without direct lift access, who urgently need to move due to medical conditions or mobility reasons, may apply for a $30,000 Lift Access Housing Grant to help offset the cost of buying a new or resale flat with direct lift access.

Announcing the grant, Mr Wong said there remains about 150 blocks across Singapore where lift upgrading is not possible, either due to excessive costs or existing technical or site constraints. HDB will continue to explore ways to implement lift access to these blocks, he added.

10-year plan to make HDB estates more sustainable

The Ministry will launch a new HDB Green Towns programme to make HDB towns “more sustainable and liveable”, Mr Wong said in Parliament.

 “Only then can we build greener and more sustainable HDB towns for our next generation,” he added.  

The 10-year programme will focus on lowering energy consumption, recycling rainwater and cooling HDB towns, bringing together initiatives that have already been implemented or trialled, while introducing new ones with the potential for scaling up. 

To reduce energy consumption, smart LED lighting will be installed in all HDB estates. Solar panels will also be installed in more housing blocks. To conserve water, HDB will pilot a system that harvests rainwater for non-potable uses like washing the common areas, Mr Wong said. 

Singapore’s 2030 goal: More gardens, park connectors

Singapore will transform into a greener city in the next 10 years, with more plant life and nature integrated into urbanised areas, in a move to transform it from a “city in a garden” to a “city in nature”.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said the project is strategic as it will enhance and extend Singapore’s natural capital.

He revealed that National Parks Board (NParks) will carry out works in four key steps:

  • Extending the Nature Park Network
    • Add 200ha by 2030
  • Intensifying nature in gardens and parks
    • 140ha of new gardens and parks in the next five years
  • Restoring nature into the built environment
  • Nature ways will be expanded from 115km to 300km by 2030
  • 100,000 trees to be planted in Tuas Industrial Estate and Seletar Aerospace Park
  • Strengthening connectivity between Singapore’s green spaces
    • Park connectors extended from 340km to 500km by 2030

Image: Lawrence Wong’s Facebook