More Singaporeans getting help to deal with rising costs, public sector report shows

More Singaporeans getting help to deal with rising costs, public sector report shows

SINGAPORE: More Singaporeans received a helping hand from the Government, particularly those struggling to keep up with rising costs of living, over the past two years, according to the latest public sector report released on Thursday (Dec 20).

The Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review (SPOR) showed that this assistance can be seen across various areas such as healthcare, housing, transport and living expenses. The report is prepared by the Ministry of Finance every two years to give a perspective on how the public sector is faring, the ministry said in the press release on the report.

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In terms of healthcare, the Government’s spending in this area has more than doubled from S$3.9 billion in Financial Year (FY) 2011 to an estimated S$10.2 billion in FY2018. A “good part” of this increase went towards enhancing healthcare subsidies to keep expenses affordable for citizens, the report showed.

Last year, for instance, almost 90 per cent of bills for inpatient treatments required patients to fork out less than S$500 after subsidies. Additionally, about 750,000 and 650,000 individuals benefited from Medisave and the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), respectively, according to the report.

It also showed that as at December 2017, 8,100 first-timer families and singles buying resale Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats have benefited from the increased CPF Housing Grant implemented in February the same year.

Meanwhile, the Proximity Housing Grant launched in August 2015 has resulted in 11,000 households receiving a total of S$211 million when buying their homes, it added.

As for transport, more than 1.8 million concession cards – which give discounts of up to 50 per cent off regular adult public transport fares – have been issued. People with disabilities are given help through the enhanced Taxi Subsidy Scheme, which now includes private-hire cars and offers subsidies of up to 80 per cent, the report showed.

Needy Singaporeans were also highlighted in the report, with households in the bottom 20 per cent of income distribution receiving the largest share of transfers from the Government. In FY2017, for example, about 79,000 beneficiaries received S$131 million in social assistance payouts under ComCare.

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The Government has paid S$5.5 billion to about 830,000 lower-wage Singaporeans under the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme, it added.

Other highlights in SPOR include:

- Singaporeans are earning higher incomes, with those at the 20th percentile and median income levels seeing their monthly incomes rise by about 20 per cent in real terms since 2013

- Two out of three preschoolers will have a place in an affordable and quality Government or Government-supported preschool by 2023, on the back of a 60 per cent increase in full-day capacity since 2012. Another 40,000 places are slated to be added.

- More than 285,000 eligible Singaporeans have used their SkillsFuture Credit as at end-2017, while more than 25,000 jobseekers have secured jobs through the Adapt and Grow initiative – up 20 per cent from the previous year.

- Making electronic payments have become simpler and safer. As at September this year, approximately 1.76 million users have registered for PayNow, which the Government is using to disburse monies such as Edusave Awards, SG Bonus payments and CPF withdrawals. Businesses can also come onboard via the PayNow Corporate service.

- Using technology to bolster day-to-day operations. For instance, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) deployed radiographic imaging scanners in July this year to enhance security clearance for buses, and this has helped ICA officers focus their checks.

“Looking back on the past two years, we have made progress across many fronts to deliver better policies and services to citizens,” Head of Civil Service Leo Yip said in the press release.

“And one element that has been present across these efforts is ensuring we listen to and partner Singaporeans in these efforts – from transforming our economy to strengthening our society to ensure a better future for Singaporeans."

Mr Yip added: “Across the work of the Public Service, we will continue to put citizens at the centre of what we do."

Source: CNA/kk(rw)