SINGAPORE: A total of S$127 million was disbursed in the last financial year to about 75,200 beneficiaries of ComCare schemes, with more seniors receiving aid in the last few years.
Overall, the number of people requiring ComCare support is fewer than in FY2017, when S$131 million was disbursed to about 79,500 beneficiaries. In FY2016, S$130 million was disbursed to about 83,000 beneficiaries.
However, the proportion of seniors requiring ComCare assistance has increased over the past few year, in line with ageing demographics and smaller family sizes, noted the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in a media release on Friday (Oct 11).
ComCare provides social assistance to low-income individuals and families through three main schemes: Long-Term Assistance, Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance and Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA).
While the number of households on ComCare increased steadily from FY2013 to FY2015, it has since stabilised after all 24 Social Service Offices were set up in FY2015 and fell slightly in FY2018, the ministry said.
The majority, about 72 per cent of the 37,436 households on ComCare, received Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance, which helps families tide over difficult times and regain stability. There were about 27,100 such beneficiaries in FY2018.
MSF said that the proportion of households headed by people aged 55 to 64 on such assistance increased from 21 per cent in FY2014 to 25 per cent in FY2018. This increase corresponds to demographic trends such as decreasing family sizes and an ageing population.
About 4,200 households received Long-Term Assistance, which provides a package of support for individuals who are unable to work due to old age, illness or disability, and have little or no family support.
The majority of households on long-term help in FY2018 - about 80 per cent - were headed by seniors aged 65 and above.
In all, 3,769 elderly main applicants aged 60 and above received Long-Term Assistance in FY2018, compared with 3,285 in FY2014. Elderly main applicants on Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance in FY2018 numbered 7,322, an increase from 6,065 in FY2014.
About 7,300 households got help with student care fees. MSF noted a dip in enrolment of SCFA beneficiaries in community-based student care centres in FY2018, following a steady increase of about 10 per cent per year from FY2014 to FY2017.
MSF said that it will continue to monitor the trends.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said: "As our population ages and family size gets smaller, ComCare will continue to play an important role in supporting vulnerable elderly and low-income families.
"We have enhanced ComCare support from July 2019 to provide higher cash assistance to eligible households. While the number of households on ComCare has stabilised, some of them face more challenges due to old age and less family support.
"This is why we are growing more partnerships between our community and Government agencies to strengthen coordination and provide more comprehensive support to such families.”