Budget 2020: 5 things to know about measures to help Singapore households with living costs

Budget 2020: 5 things to know about measures to help Singapore households with living costs

A view of HDB blocks against the Singapore skyline
A view of HDB blocks against the Singapore skyline. (File photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Households in Singapore will receive about S$1.6 billion to help with their expenses as the country faces economic slowdown and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"People often tell us that they are worried about job security and rising expenditures," said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as he announced on Tuesday (Feb 18) a Care and Support Package during his Budget speech.

Budget 2020 Care and Support Package infographic

READ: Budget 2020 - S$1.6 billion Care and Support Package to help Singaporeans with household expenses

A young family can expect to receive about S$1,300 from the package, while a three-generation family may receive about S$1,800. Lower-income Singaporeans will also get more help with their daily living expenses.

Here is a breakdown of the measures in the Care and Support Package:

1. CASH PAYOUT

A one-time cash payout of S300, S$200 or S$100 will be given to all Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2020. The amount given will depend on the recipient's income level.

A further S$100 will be given to every adult Singaporean with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and below this year.

Budget 2020 Care and Support Cash infographic

2. GST VOUCHER – U-SAVE

The Government will double the amount of U-Save rebates, meant to offset the utilities expenses, through a one-off GST voucher - U-Save special payment to all eligible Housing Board households.

Larger households with five or more members will receive an additional rebate on top of that, which adds up to 2.5 times their regular U-Save rebates. 

READ: HDB households to get GST voucher this month to offset utilities bills

The service and conservancy charges rebate will also be extended by another year. Eligible HDB households will get between 1.5 and 3.5 months worth of rebates.

Budget 2020 GSTV - U-Save rebates infographic

3. FOR SINGAPOREANS AGED 50 AND ABOVE

A S$100 top-up to the PAssion Card will be given to Singaporeans aged 50 and above this year, including seniors from the Pioneer and Merdeka generations.

This can be used to pay for groceries, and activities and use of facilities at community clubs, among other things.

Those who do not have a PAssion Card can get one for free to receive the top-up.

4. GROCERY VOUCHERS, WORKFARE FOR LOWER-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS

Grocery vouchers worth S$100 will be given to needy Singaporeans in 2020 and in 2021, to be used at major supermarkets. "This directly helps needy households with one of their major cost-of-living items - food," said Mr Heng.

Lower-wage workers on workfare will get 20 per cent more payment for work done in 2019, with a minimum payment of S$100, given in cash.

​​​​​​​READ: Budget 2020 - 5 things to know about plans to help workers and businesses amid COVID-19 challenges

The Workfare Transport Concession Scheme and the Public Transport Voucher announced in October last year are also expected to help cushion the fare increase for lower-income households.

The scheme gives lower-wage workers 15 per cent off adult fares. Public Transport Vouchers worth S$50 were made available for one in five resident households last year.

5. THROUGH SELF-HELP GROUPS AND CDC

Self-help groups will be given a S$10 million grant over two years. These include the Chinese Development Assistance Council, the Eurasian Association, the Singapore Indian Development Association and Yayasan Mendaki.

The five Community Development Councils overseeing various parts of the island will also get S$20 million to "better meet the needs of their residents through local initiatives", including helping vulnerable groups and "those with extra needs".

Budget 2020 Heng Swee Keat in Parliament wide 2
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivering the Budget 2020 statement in Parliament on Feb 18, 2020.

These measures come on top of significant moves by the Government to help Singaporeans manage major life expenditures "through structural subsidies for education, housing and healthcare", said Mr Heng.

"We are mindful that many families are facing greater pressures," he added.

READ: Budget 2020 - Amid COVID-19 and slowing economy, ensuring Singapore remains ‘exceptional’

Source: CNA/jt(hm)

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