Budget 2023: Baby Bonus increased by S$3,000, with payouts until child turns six-and-a-half
Parents of babies born on Feb 14 and after will receive a Baby Bonus of S$11,000 each for their first and second child, and S$13,000 for their third child and beyond.
SINGAPORE: The Baby Bonus Cash Gift will be increased by S$3,000 for babies born from Tuesday (Feb 14), announced Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in his Budget speech.
The payout schedule will also be adjusted to provide financial support regularly every six months until the child turns six-and-a-half years old, he said.
Currently, parents receive S$8,000 each in Baby Bonus Cash Gift for their first and second child, and S$10,000 for their third child and beyond. The cash is disbursed in five instalments over the first 18 months after the child is born.
With the adjustments, parents of babies born on Feb 14 and after will receive S$11,000 each for their first and second child, and S$13,000 for their third child and beyond.
The parents will be eligible for the Baby Bonus Cash Gift if they are lawfully married and the child is a Singapore citizen. The scheme was last enhanced in 2015.
The move will significantly increase financial support in a child’s early years, said Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister.
“To all young married couples, whether you already have a newborn, or you're expecting a baby, or you plan to have a baby, we have something to help you in your parenthood journey,” he added.
Under the adjusted scheme, parents having their first or second child will receive S$7,000 in the first 18 months after their child is born, said the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) in a separate media release.
Parents having their third child and beyond will receive S$9,000 in the first 18 months.
The remaining amount will be disbursed in tranches of S$400 every six months until the child turns six-and-a-half years old, said NPTD.
This will allow parents to receive continuous support until their child enters primary school, said Mr Wong.
The enhanced Baby Bonus Cash Gift will be paid out from early 2024.
The S$3,000 Baby Support Grant, a one-off grant which was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, will also be extended to parents of babies born from Oct 1, 2022, to Feb 13 this year, announced Mr Wong.
The grant was previously given to parents of Singaporean children born from Oct 1, 2020, to Sep 30, 2022, to encourage couples to proceed with their parenthood plans through the pandemic.
The extended grant will be disbursed in the second half of 2023, said NPTD.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT
The Child Development Account (CDA) First Step Grant will be increased from S$3,000 to S$5,000, announced Mr Wong on Tuesday.
The funds in the Child Development Account can be used to pay for a child's education and healthcare needs.
The co-matching cap for children who are the first or second child will also be increased by S$1,000, to S$4,000 and S$7,000 respectively, said Mr Wong.
Third and fourth children continue to get up to S$9,000 in matching funds from the Government, while the fifth and subsequent child will continue to get up to S$15,000.
Parents will have to deposit funds in their child's CDA to get the matching amount. These changes will apply to children born from Feb 14, and will be implemented from early next year, said NPTD in its press release.
Parents can still save up to the current co-matching caps this year, and anything beyond that will not be matched until the changes are in place, it added.
“We will notify parents when they can make the additional deposits into their child’s CDA to enjoy the enhanced government co-matching,” said Mr Wong.
In his speech, Mr Wong also announced that paternity leave would be doubled for fathers of children born from Jan 1, 2024.
The enhancements to the Baby Bonus Cash Gift and the CDA, as well as the new leave provisions, will cost the Government S$240 million per cohort of children, said Mr Wong.
KIDSTART AND COMCARE
The Government will also take more steps to better integrate common functions across different programmes that support lower-income families, said the Deputy Prime Minister on Tuesday.
ComLink, an initiative that helps families with children living in rental housing, has been rolled out nationwide to 14,000 families, Mr Wong noted.
Social assistance schemes like ComCare, which help families meet basic living expenses, are also a critical source of support for many lower-income families, he added.
The ComCare Endowment Fund, which partly funds ComCare, will receive a S$300 million top-up, to support lower-income families amid higher inflation, said Mr Wong.
“Beyond inequality, we must also sustain social mobility across generations. In particular, we know that the first few years matter greatly in shaping a child’s potential in life,” he added.
“So we must do more to close the early gaps in our children’s lives.”
The KidStart programme, which provides upstream support for pregnant mothers and young children in lower-income families, will be scaled up nationwide, Mr Wong announced.
The programme is expected to support 80 per cent of eligible children in lower-income families, starting from children born in 2023, he added.
The preliminary outcomes of the programme are encouraging, noted Mr Wong.
“There are some early indications that KidSTART children had better pre-school attendance than their peers of similar socio-economic backgrounds,” he continued.
“Parents and caregivers on the programme also said that they were better supported in their parenting journey.”
The Government has also made significant investments in the early childhood sector, said Mr Wong, with spending growing six times from 2013 to 2022.
“These investments have had an impact,” said Mr Wong, adding that the pre-school enrolment rate of children aged five to six years old who live in public rental flats is now comparable to the national average.
For children aged three to four years old who live in public rental flats, the enrolment rate is 80 per cent, lower than the national average of about 88 per cent, he said.
“We will continue to provide additional assistance to lower-income families and reach out to them to facilitate their children’s pre-school enrolment," he added.