Singapore — Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on Tuesday (Feb 16) that Budget 2021 will focus on long-term efforts to ensure equal opportunities for all Singaporeans, namely—lower wage workers, older workers, persons with disabilities (PWDs), lower-income families, and children with special needs.
While all of our lives have been upended by the pandemic, certain groups of society have been more badly affected.
DPM Heng noted that “in order to strengthen our social compact, we must work together to address the challenges faced by the more vulnerable members of our society”.
Budget 2021 will continue to allocate resources to strengthening social safety nets, paying close attention to the more vulnerable in our midst.
Lower wage workers
For lower-wage workers, DPM Heng noted that a multi-pronged approach will be employed, through the enhanced Workfare Income Supplement, Workfare Skills Support, the Progressive Wage Model, and Workcare.
The Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-wage Workers was formed in October 2020 and has since been exploring ways to uplift workers’ wages and job opportunities. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will provide more details on how the Workgroup will facilitate the expansion of Progressive Wages, something that DPM Heng says the Government is aspiring toward in every sector of the economy.
With an ageing population, Singapore’s older workers are more important than ever. The Government plans to focus on helping ageing workers to continue working if they want to, with increased budgets and elevated support.
According to DPM Heng, the budget for Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant and the Part-Time Re-employment Grant—two key components of the Senior Workers Support Package—will be increased by over S$200 million to support more companies as they move to increase retirement and re-employment ages, making way for older workers to live productive lives that contribute positively to society.
Persons with disabilities
To encourage employment and training of PWDs, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced an allocation of 1,200 new job and training opportunities for PWDs. This builds on previous initiatives that are in place to help PWDs—the Open Door Programme and the Enabling Employment Credit.
MSF has been working to strengthen social service delivery providing holistic support to lower-income families who have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. DPM Heng announced that ComLink—one of MSF’s main initiatives focused on helping families with children in ren—will be “expanded significantly” to cover 14,000 Singaporean families over the next two years.
By mobilising community assets and galvanising local volunteering efforts, ComLink is also coordinating with other initiatives geared toward supporting families.
Children with special needs
DPM Heng noted that students with special needs deserve “enhanced support”. The Government will pilot a three-year Inclusive Support Programme for children who require up to medium levels of early intervention and assistance. Many of these children are already in preschools, and the programme will allow them to be more meaningfully engaged alongside other children and help them develop social skills and social inclusion.
“Supporting the needy and vulnerable segments of our society are integral to strengthening our social compact. We will continue to identify and target groups who may need further support,” assured DPM Heng.
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