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COVID-19: NTUC closes online system after ‘massive surge’ of income relief scheme applications for self-employed

COVID-19: NTUC closes online system after ‘massive surge’ of income relief scheme applications for self-employed

Screengrab of the website to facilitate applications for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS).

SINGAPORE: The website that handles applications for the self-employed person income relief scheme (SIRS) has been closed as it implements a queuing system.

This comes after a surge in applications, said Mr Ng Chee Meng, secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Apr 28).

Applications for the relief scheme opened on Monday, but a "massive surge caused major connectivity problems for users", Mr Ng explained.

“This meant that many users were not able to submit or complete their applications.”

A check by CNA at 6pm on Tuesday showed the website was still down, with a message indicating that the application system was closed 

SIRS was introduced by the Government amid the COVID-19 outbreak to help those who were self-employed and have had their incomes disrupted by the pandemic.

It offers a total payment of S$9,000 that will be given in three equal payouts in May, July and October. NTUC was tasked with administering the applications and appeals.

Mr Ng assured applicants that the payments they receive will not be impacted by when they apply for the scheme.

“We know that many of you are anxious. We want to assure eligible (self-employed persons) who are applying/appealing that the number of tranches is not impacted by when you submit your application.

“As long as you are eligible, you will receive payouts in three tranches.”

READ: Solidarity Budget: Criteria broadened for freelancers’ financial assistance scheme

In the comments section of Mr Ng’s post, NTUC Singapore added there was no fixed deadline for applications, assuring applicants there would be time for them to submit their request.

The addition of the queue system, Mr Ng added, was to prevent the system from getting overwhelmed.

“This will avoid further disruption and manage user experience. In the meantime, we need to keep the application page closed to effect this,” Mr Ng said, apologising for the delay.

In a separate Facebook update on Monday afternoon by the Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit, an initiative by NTUC, the group urged applicants to try again later.

“We are experiencing high traffic due to the large volume of applications,” it said.

Comments on the post were by disgruntled applicants who faced issues with the online system.

WATCH: Freelancers suffer income loss amid COVID-19 outbreak | Video

One user claimed she kept getting booted out of the system while “uploading”. Others encountered error messages signalling the service was unavailable.

“Can’t access at all. Full of error messages,” said one person.

In response to an applicant who asked about how to register to be in the queue, the group said it would provide updates once the website was enhanced.

The self-employed income relief scheme is available to those who meet the criteria which includes being a Singapore citizen, identifying as a self-employed person no later than Mar 25 and earning a net trade income of no more than S$100,000 a year.

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Source: CNA/aa(rw)


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