D. A Caring and Inclusive Society
D.1. We are building an inclusive and caring society – one where Singaporeans of all backgrounds can improve their lives, where the vulnerable are uplifted, and where people of all ages can look to the future with optimism.
D.2. The Government will continue to support families, help the needy and catalyse community efforts. In the last decade, we have significantly increased our social spending and strengthened safety nets.9 Many Singaporeans are also stepping forward to help others in need.
D.3. However, our needs are growing. Our population is ageing, families are smaller and our social needs are more complex. Even as the Government strengthens direct support, more people need to help out. In many areas, the human connection is critical – taking care of loved ones and neighbours, volunteering for worthy causes, organising community events or raising donations. We must strengthen the gotong-royong spirit where each one of us does our part to help one another.
D.4. Let me first speak about what we will do to keep Singapore a Great Place for Families. In the past two years, we enhanced parental leave10 and grants for new-borns11.
D.5. In this Budget, we will provide additional support for families, in the areas of housing, pre-school and post-secondary education.
Increase in CPF Housing Grant
D.6. Many couples start their lives together by applying for a BTO flat12 which is highly subsidised.
D.7. For others, a resale flat may better meet their needs. Some may wish to live near their parents. Some may prefer to move earlier into their own home. To help them, we will increase subsidies for those who buy their first HDB home from the resale market.
D.8. With immediate effect, we will increase the CPF Housing Grant from $30,000 to $50,000 for couples who purchase 4-room or smaller resale flats, and from $30,000 to $40,000 for couples who purchase 5-room or bigger resale flats. Together with the Additional CPF Housing Grant and Proximity Housing Grant13, a couple can now receive a total of up to $110,000 in housing grants when buying a resale flat, depending on the flat location, flat type and their income. Other eligible first-timers will also benefit from some grant enhancement.
D.9. This measure will cost an additional $110 million per year. The Minister for National Development will announce other measures to help young families get their first home at the COS.
Enhancements to the Preschool Sector
D.10. We will improve the accessibility of pre-school.
D.11. Over the last five years, we increased childcare places by over 40%, to about 140,000. Now, there are enough places for more than half of all children between 18 months and six years of age. All receive Government subsidies.
D.12. We will provide more support for those with infants, that is, children under 18 months of age. At present, about 4,000, or 8% of all infants are enrolled in centre-based infant care. To meet growing demand, we will increase the capacity of centre-based infant care to over 8,000 places by 2020.
D.13. The Minister for Social and Family Development will give more details at the COS. The Senior Minister of State in charge of Population issues at the Prime Minister’s Office will also speak about our efforts to keep Singapore a Great Place for Families.
Enhancement of Bursaries for Post-Secondary Education Institutions
D.14. We will increase annual bursary amounts for those attending Post-Secondary Education Institutions, or PSEIs. The amount of increase will be up to $400 for undergraduate students, up to $350 for diploma students, and up to $200 for ITE students. For ITE students, existing bursaries already more than cover their course fees.
D.15. Next, we will extend PSEI bursaries to more families, by revising the income eligibility criteria. About 12,000 more Singaporean students are expected to benefit, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 71,000.
D.16. In total, PSEI bursaries will increase from about $100 million to $150 million per year. The Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) will provide more details at the COS.
Household Support Measures
D.17. Let me now speak of how we will assist households with their expenses.
Increase in GST Voucher – U-Save
D.18. Earlier, I said that we would help households offset some of the increase in water prices. We will increase the GST Voucher – U-Save Rebate for eligible HDB households, by an amount ranging from $40 to $120, depending on flat type, as seen in the table. This increase will be permanent.
D.19. Families living in 1- and 2-room HDB flats will receive $380 of U-Save rebates each year compared to $260, while families living in 3- and 4-room HDB flats will receive $340 and $300 per year respectively, compared to $240 and $220 .
D.20. Taking into account these higher U-Save rebates, 75% of all HDB households will see an average increase of less than $12 in their monthly water expenses. 1- and 2-room HDB households will on average have no increase in their water expenses.
D.21. About 880,000 HDB households will benefit. This will cost an additional $71 million each year.
D.22. The U-Save rebate will soften the impact of the water price increase. Even as we provide this assistance, we should not lose sight of the scarcity of water, and thus should conserve it.
One-off GST Voucher – Cash Special Payment
D.23. To help lower income households with expenses, we will provide a one-off GST Voucher – Cash Special Payment of up to $200 for eligible GST Voucher – Cash recipients. This is in addition to the regular GST Voucher – Cash. In total, eligible Singaporeans can receive up to $500 in cash for 2017, as seen in the table.
D.24. The one-off Special Payment will cost about $280 million and benefit more than 1.3 million Singaporeans.
Extension and Increase of S&CC Rebate
D.25. We will also extend the Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebate, and raise it by 0.5 months for FY2017. As seen in the table, this year, we will provide 1.5 to 3.5 months of S&CC rebate to eligible HDB households. 1- and 2-room HDB households will receive a total of 3.5 months of rebates, while 3- and 4-room households will receive 2.5 months of rebates.
D.26. This will cost the Government $120 million and benefit about 880,000 HDB households.
Personal Income Tax Rebate
D.27. Finally, I will give a Personal Income Tax Rebate of 20% of tax payable, capped at $500, for tax residents for YA2017 (i.e. for income earned in 2016). This will give households a reduction in their tax bills for this year. The rebate will cost the Government $385 million.
Total Household Support
D.28. In total, we will provide additional support of over $850 million this year to help households with their expenses. (Refer to Annex C)
Top-ups to Funds
D.29. To support the increase in U-Save I announced earlier and other future GST Voucher payments, I will make a $1.5 billion top up to the GST Voucher Fund.
D.30. Since the last top-up in FY2013, Medifund utilisation has increased by an average of 9% per year from FY2013 to FY2015. I will therefore also top up Medifund by $500 million, bringing the total fund size to $4.5 billion.
D.31. In addition, I will top up the ComCare Fund by $200 million. This fund supports families and individuals in need.
Building an Inclusive Society
D.32. I will now speak on measures to foster a caring and inclusive society.
D.33. All of us can play a part in our communities. All of us have something to offer, be it time, expertise or the extra attention, to care for each other. It takes all of us to build an inclusive society. Let me first touch on how we will increase support for Persons with Disabilities and people with mental health conditions.
Enabling Masterplan 3
D.34. The Enabling Masterplans are 5-year national plans to support persons with disabilities and their caregivers. Under the two previous Masterplans, we increased support in areas such as early intervention and education, employment, care services, assistive technologies and accessibility.
D.35. We will launch the Third Enabling Masterplan, which was put together by a committee of private and public sector representatives. The Masterplan calls for the Government and the community to better integrate Persons with Disabilities into the workforce, and to give more support to their caregivers.
D.36. Today, higher-functioning graduands from Special Education schools who can work are matched to special training programmes, to prepare them for employment. We will make these training programmes available to not only graduands with mild intellectual disability and autism, but also those with moderate intellectual and multiple disabilities.
D.37. To support caregivers, we will set up a Disability Caregiver Support Centre to provide information, planned respite, training and peer support groups. The Centre will also work with VWOs to pilot programmes catering to caregivers of newly-diagnosed Persons with Disabilities.
D.38. Including existing initiatives, we expect to spend around $400 million per year on initiatives supporting Persons with Disabilities. The Minister for Social and Family Development will elaborate at the COS.
Community Mental Health
D.39. We must also rally around those with mental health conditions, including dementia. Mental health issues may not be easy to talk about, but we can make good progress when the community comes together.
D.40. Since 2012, MOH has partnered VWOs to set up 36 teams that provide outreach and allied health support in the community. Last year, MOH also launched Dementia Friendly Communities in Hong Kah North, MacPherson and Yishun. These communities are networks of residents, businesses and services trained to look out for and help those with symptoms of dementia.
D.41. We will resource VWOs to set up more community-based teams to support those in need, as well as educate the public on mental health issues. MOH will provide mental health care services in polyclinics, as part of its broader effort to improve the delivery of care within the community.
D.42. We will also involve the wider community, and expand the number of Dementia Friendly Communities. The National Council for Social Services will also lead efforts to integrate persons with mental health issues at the workplace and in wider society.
D.43. As part of our Community Mental Health efforts, we will spend an additional $160 million in the next five years. The Minister for Health will elaborate during the COS.
Strengthening Community Bonds
D.44. Beyond supporting families and those with greater needs, this Budget also aims to strengthen community bonds.
VWOs-Charities Capability Fund
D.45. Since 2002, the VWOs-Charities Capability Fund has helped VWOs and charities train their staff, expand their reach, and serve people better. So far, we have committed over $180 million of funding. This has helped around 400 VWOs and charities. Over the next five years, we will provide additional funding, up to $100 million in total, to further develop the capabilities of our VWOs and charities. The Minister for Social and Family Development will provide further details at the COS.
Grants to Self-Help Groups
D.46. Our Self-Help Groups have also been doing good work, working closely with the community to help needy families and children. To enable them to do more, I will provide an additional $6 million grant to the Self-Help Groups over the next two years.
Community Sports and Sports Excellence
D.47. One way we bring our society together is through sports – be it playing sports with friends and neighbours, or cheering on our sportsmen and women. Last year, we cheered our Olympic and Paralympics athletes who gave their very best, and did us proud. It was Team Singapore at its finest!
D.48. We will do more to make it easier for all Singaporeans to participate in sports. Over $50 million has been set aside to support community sports. We will expand the Sports-In-Precinct Programme, so that more Singaporeans can play sports near their homes. We will also expand the SportCares Programme, which encourages disadvantaged youth to discover their strengths through sports.
D.49. To help aspiring athletes reach their full potential, we will commit an additional $50 million in grants over five years. On top of that, we will provide up to $50 million to match sports donations dollar-for-dollar. This will build a wider base of support for Team Singapore. The Minister for Culture, Community and Youth will provide more details at the COS.
Cultural Matching Fund
D.50. Like sports, cultural activities build bonds among our people. Increasingly, many people not only visit museums and attend performances, but also participate actively as docents and donors. The Cultural Matching Fund currently provides dollar-for-dollar matching for donations to cultural institutions. Since the Fund was implemented in 2014, about $150 million has been committed, and donations to arts and heritage causes have more than doubled.
D.51. To sustain this momentum, I will top up the Cultural Matching Fund by $150 million.
Last updated on 20 Feb 2017