SINGAPORE: In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, a one-off grant of S$3,000 will be given to parents of infants born from Oct 1 this year to Sep 30, 2022, it was announced on Friday (Oct 9).
The Baby Support Grant will provide additional support in helping couples “defray child-raising costs during these extraordinary times”, said the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a media release.
The Baby Support Grant will supplement the existing Baby Bonus Cash Gift, which is worth up to S$10,000. The grant also adds to the Marriage and Parenthood Package.
This announcement also follows Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s remarks in a ministerial statement earlier this week that the Government will introduce one-off additional support for newborns after receiving feedback that the COVID-19 pandemic had led to some people postponing their parenthood plans.
“This pandemic has not been easy on Singaporeans who are planning to get married and start their families. The Government will spare no effort to help couples meet their marriage and parenthood aspirations,” said Minister in the PMO Indranee Rajah, who oversees the NPTD.
“Supporting Singaporeans in fulfilling their plans to marry and raise families is a key national priority,” said the media release.
“The Government’s Marriage and Parenthood Package offers a comprehensive suite of support measures, which have been progressively enhanced since 2001.
“The latest round of enhancements in 2019/2020 has improved pre-school affordability and accessibility, made housing more affordable for those buying their first homes from HDB, and provided additional healthcare support for children and couples.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about “unprecedented challenges to lives and livelihoods”, and some couples have indicated that they will postpone their life plans so as to focus on their financial stability and employment prospects, said NPTD.
“As age affects fertility, marrying and having children later may result in families being unable to have the number of children they aspire to have,” NPTD added.
The Baby Support Grant will be deposited into the same bank account as nominated by parents when they enrol their child for the Baby Bonus Scheme and its cash gift. Parents will receive the Baby Support Grant from Apr 1 2021, or within one month of enrolment into the Baby Bonus Scheme, whichever is later.
A "FURTHER BOOST" FOR COUPLES: INDRANEE
Speaking to the media at a virtual doorstop after her visit to a Mothercare store at Harbourfront Centre, Ms Indranee said that the Government supports the aspirations of Singaporeans who wish to get married and have children.
“We know many Singaporeans aspire to get married, to have children, and the Government supports these aspirations, and we believe that society should also encourage the formation of strong families because families are our basic unit of society - and we want them to be strong, so that we have a strong Singapore,” she said.
Ms Indranee noted that the Government has enhanced its support for marriage and parenthood over the years on “many different fronts”.
“Every year, the Marriage and Parenthood Package costs the government about S$4 billion. Of which, S$1 billion goes towards early childhood education and development,” she added, explaining that the Baby Support Grant will be a “further boost” for couples.
Given the other measures already in place to support parents, Ms Indranee said that the amount of S$3,000 was decided upon by looking at the suite of measures in its “totality”.
“We looked at it and we said: 'What can we do to add on, and provide some additional assistance that would be meaningful?'" she told reporters.
“And we felt that S$3000 would be a number that would be helpful ... At the same time, you must also bear in mind that (the) Government has been giving out a lot of assistance for many other things like the Job Support Scheme, the COVID-19 support grant, many other things that we are doing as well; so we looked at it in its totality.”
Ms Indranee also noted that the two-year period would be a “reasonable” one, and the Government will conduct a review at the end of the scheme to see whether it remains “relevant and useful”.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article reported that Ms Indranee Rajah said that S$1 billion goes towards “subsidising the costs of pre-school”. The PMO has clarified that she meant to say the above sum goes towards “early childhood education and development”.