These are difficult and unprecedented times for Singaporeans. The Covid-19 situation has disrupted many of our daily routines. Younger Singaporeans may not have encountered a crisis of this magnitude, while older Singaporeans are reminded of tough times early on in Singapore’s history.
The Government is doing all we can to help those whose jobs and incomes have been affected. In less than two months, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has rolled out three successive budgets, providing $60 billion worth of measures to help families, workers, and businesses ride out this crisis.
At the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), our main priority is to ensure that the more vulnerable in our community are taken care of. We will continue to step up efforts so that no one gets left behind.
Under the Resilience Budget, MSF has put up two new schemes to help lower- and middle- income households who have lost their jobs or a significant proportion of their incomes because of the crisis.
On April 1, we rolled out the Temporary Relief Fund (TRF), a one-time cash disbursement of $500, for those who need immediate assistance in April. We have received more than 300,000 applications so far, of which around half are online applications since the online system was launched on April 6.
Come next month, those who have lost their jobs due to retrenchment, or have had their employment contracts terminated due to Covid-19 will be supported by the Covid-19 Support Grant. Successful applicants will get $800 a month for three months, while participating in a job search or re-training programme.
In parallel, MSF has simplified the application processes for ComCare assistance for lower-income households who qualify. Social Service Office (SSO) officers also work with grassroots volunteers to provide practical support, for example, to elderly residents who are quarantined and need help to purchase groceries.
Many have donated generously to the Courage Fund which supports healthcare and front-line workers, and lower-income families affected by Covid-19. The Fund has received more than $8 million in donations.
As we roll out support measures to provide financial assistance quickly, we also want to look after the psychological well-being and resilience of our people. The government has set up a National CARE Hotline to offer emotional support to anyone who faces stress and anxieties arising from the Covid-19 crisis. Our CARE officers – psychologists, counsellors, social workers and relevant professionals – may link you up with our social service agencies and specialised services, such as MSF’s online marital counselling service.
We must continue to do what we can to help Singapore and Singaporeans back on their feet, to emerge stronger when this is over. During this circuit breaker period, you can do your part. Here are the respective schemes that I have shared, please share them with someone who might needs it:
Covid-19 is a test of our resilience on many fronts – economic, social, health, and psychological. It is also a test of our strength as a society and people. I am confident that we will get through this together. This test will be our legacy to the generations after us.
People’s Action Party
17 April 2020
Photo credit: Minister Desmond Lee’s Facebook