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Solidarity Budget: Criteria broadened for freelancers’ financial assistance scheme

Solidarity Budget: Criteria broadened for freelancers’ financial assistance scheme

A taxi driver waits for passengers outside Swissotel The Stamford. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: The Government will expand the criteria of self-employed people who are eligible for cash support, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday (Apr 6).

Under the previously announced Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), 88,000 freelancers such as taxi drivers, real estate agents and sole proprietors will receive three quarterly payouts of S$3,000 at end-May, July and October 2020.

But since SIRS was announced at the Resilience Budget on Mar 26, some self-employed people have said that the criteria was too narrow, Mr Heng said.

For example, those who earned a side income as an employee were ineligible.

Mr Heng, who was speaking in Parliament to announce further measures to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the yardstick will be enhanced in two ways.

Firstly, the SIRS will include freelancers who also earn a small income from employment work. 

Secondly, the property annual value threshold has been raised from S$13,000 to S$21,000 to include those who live in some condominiums and other private properties. 

READ: COVID-19: MOM to look into helping self-employed workers not eligible for new income relief scheme 

The other criteria will remain unchanged. These include having a net trade income of no more than S$100,000. The assessable income of a self-employed person’s spouse should also not exceed S$70,000. 

Mr Heng said with the revised benchmarks, 100,000 self-employed people will be eligible for the scheme. They will receive three payouts of S$3,000 starting from May. 

“In these extraordinary times, many such self-employed persons are hard-hit. I hope that by our helping them, they too can help others in their networks, and their workers, and we keep the spirit of enterprise alive,” Mr Heng said in his speech to Parliament. 

READ: COVID-19 Budget: Self-employed people, firms, first-time jobseekers to receive more support 

But he added that those who do not need the help and do not qualify should not come forward to “appeal for and abuse the support”.

“Otherwise, you undermine public confidence and take up unnecessary resources.”

The National Trades Union Congress, or NTUC, will be helping the Government to administer the application and appeals for SIRS, Mr Heng said. 

Speaking on the SIRS, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said that there is no need for eligible self-employed people to apply. 

Those aged 37 and above who declared a positive net trade income will be automatically notified and receive their first payout in end May.

"For the rest that narrowly missed qualifying for SIRS, they can appeal and we will consider their case," she said later in the Parliamentary session.

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Source: CNA/rp


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