Supporting Our People – From Young To Old, At Home And At Work

By investing in its people, Singapore will continue to grow and thrive.
Supporting our people – from young to old, at home and at work
Credit: Tourism Information & Services Hub (TIH).

Each year, whether through positive or challenging economic conditions, the Singapore Budget includes measures to encourage Singaporeans to seize new opportunities, and strives to ensure that less able citizens and families are given the support they need.

In building a caring and inclusive society, we want Singaporeans of all backgrounds to be able to improve their lives, where the vulnerable are uplifted, and where people of all ages can look to the future with optimism.

As the Government continues to support Singaporean families, help the needy, and catalyse community efforts, let’s review some of the initiatives introduced over the past few Budgets, covering four key areas.

Support For Families

The family lies at the heart of Singapore’s society, and recent Budget measures have reflected the increasing support given to new parents.

Expecting a baby soon? Under the Baby Bonus Scheme, parents can look forward to receiving a cash gift of least $8,000 for every child born from 2015.

In addition, under the Child Development Account (CDA) First Step grant announced in Budget 2016, parents will automatically receive an initial $3,000 in their child’s CDA, and can enjoy dollar-for-dollar matching on savings of up to $15,000 from the Government, which they can use for their children’s healthcare and childcare needs.

Meanwhile, young couples and families who are first-time homebuyers can enjoy a higher CPF Housing Grant of up to $50,000 when they buy a resale HDB flat.

Other than expanding the options for more affordable housing, this enhancement, which was announced in Budget 2017, helps young couples and families who have a strong preference for a specific location (for instance, to live near their parents or their workplace), or who wish to move into their own home sooner to start a family (instead of waiting for a new BTO flat).

The investment in the young continues beyond birth towards the schooling years.

To ensure that families with young children can enjoy better access to affordable and quality childcare services, the Budgets over 2014 to 2017 provided a package of support ranging from the enhanced Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS), to the introduction of the Partner Operator scheme for child care operators and increasing the capacity of centre-based infant care.

A World-Class Education System And Beyond

Singapore has a world-class education system, with some of the latest facilities and quality educators, due to the investment made in our people and infrastructure.

Spending on education has almost doubled over the decade, rising from about $7 billion in 2007 to nearly $13 billion in 2017.

But education doesn’t only take place within the confines of the classroom.

Announced in Budget 2016, a new Outward Bound School on Coney Island will be built, costing about $250 million. Expected to be ready by 2020, the new campus is aimed at helping to spur a sense of adventure and resilience among the youth.

The new economy also calls for constant learning and upgrading of skills throughout one’s career.

Unveiled in Budget 2015, the SkillsFuture movement supports Singaporeans with initiatives such as career guidance, enhanced internships and subsidies for mid-career learning in order to develop the skills and mastery needed to take our economy to the next level.

Support At Work

The qualifying income ceiling for the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), a permanent scheme that supplements the wages and retirement savings of low-income workers, was raised from $1,900 a month to $2,000 in Budget 2016.

Eligible workers would get higher payouts of up to $3,600 a year, depending on their age and income.

Singaporeans, including those affected by the economic restructuring, can also tap on the Adapt and Grow programme to enhance their skills and find jobs in new and fast-growing sectors.

Honouring Our Seniors

The Government takes care of seniors who have contributed in the early days of nation-building.

About 450,000 elderly Singaporeans born in 1949 and earlier receive generous health subsidies such as the special subsidies for MediShield Life premiums and annual Medisave top-ups under the Pioneer Generation Package, which was announced in Budget 2014 and cost cost $8 billion.

Meanwhile, low-income seniors who may not be able to support themselves in their later years can receive between $300 and $750 every quarter from the Silver Support Scheme. The financial assistance amounted to nearly $320 million in the first year (2016).

In Budget 2019, the Government announced the details of the new Merdeka Generation Package, honouring those from the Merdeka Generation, born between 1950 – 1959.

Together, We’ll Build A Better Future For All Of Us

Through the annual Budgets, the Government has been laying the groundwork to support Singaporeans in their skills upgrading and to provide more assurance to our people, in the face of an ageing population, building a better future for all.

The slew of measures helps to give Singaporeans a greater peace of mind, and to provide opportunities to secure our future and pursue our aspirations.

However, even as the Government strengthens support for Singaporeans, let each of us do our part to help one another. It is only when the foundations for family and community support are strong that we can build upon them to create a caring, resilient and cohesive society that Singaporeans can live and age in confidently.