Singapore—Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) shared the challenges low-income households face after spending time with an Anchorvale family this week, writing that “finances are an ever-present worry.”
Associate Prof Lim wrote in a Friday morning (Jan 7) Facebook post that he and his team of volunteers have resumed house visits and other in-person, and met with the Oliveiros family at 305A #Anchorvale.
“As usual, I was only able to cover around half the block, as I had more involved conversations with a number of residents,” he wrote.
The Oliveiros family is in a “classic ‘sandwich’ situation,” added the WP MP, as they are taking care of school-aged children as well as supporting their elderly parents.
“But that isn’t all. Households in six circumstances also often face so-called cliff-edge effects in public assistance,” he added.
Getting a job, in and of itself, is not always the answer.
Prof Lim wrote that in some cases, employment means that “suddenly your income puts you so far above the cutoff for means testing that you’re ineligible for a whole bunch of welfare programs (so much so that, taken together, you may be not much better off with a job, than without).”
Even earning more than the minimum salary that qualifies someone for social services assistance does not always help either because it could mean that “you’ll find that there’s no help when someone in your family falls sick, even though you’re still living paycheck to paycheck.”
“Many families are one unexpected mishap away from wiping out their hard-earned savings,” he added.
Prof Lim acknowledged, however, that social assistance programs are now able to provide better help for people, and that people need to be encouraged to be self-sufficient. But this does not mean the system cannot be improved.
“Some programs—like Workfare—do help soften some of the cliff edge effects (albeit still insufficiently, in my view). And we do need to encourage self-sufficiency and not a welfare mindset. Yet I find that the bar for qualifying for state aid remains too low, the bureaucracy for proving real need too stringent and onerous, and the gap for those that are barely making it too wide. That makes hard living in Singapore—one of the world’s most expensive cities—continuously challenging,” he wrote.
Netizens commenting on his post thanked the MP for his on-ground work.
One “sandwiched” commenter agreed with Prof Lim.
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