Local human rights NGO, MARUAH, has urged Singapore to do more for older people in Singapore above the age of 55.
Noting that there has been evidence that older people in Singapore find it difficult to cope financially and in taking care of themselves, MARUAH cited a recent Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSSP) report as another study that shows the disparity between the financial needs and resources of older Singaporeans.
The LKYSSP report found that the amount necessary to ensure older Singaporeans are able to maintain a basic standard of living is S$1,379 per month for single elderly households, S$2,351 per month for coupled elderly households and S$1,721 per month for single persons aged 55-64.
The basic standard of living applies to those from diverse backgrounds and takes into account an individual’s need for food, shelter, clothing, opportunities and access to education, employment and social participation.
The study found that the wages older Singaporeans earn in the three most common occupations are insufficient to maintain a basic standard of living.
While it acknowledged that the Government has schemes to supplement the income of older people in Singapore, MARUAH asserted that “more needs to be done in terms of adequacy, governance, sustainability and implementation of the schemes, based on this study’s findings on what an older person needs.” It added:
“For instance, only 55% of people have sufficient savings to meet the Basic Retirement Sum to receive the monthly payouts after retirement. The rest of the people do not receive any annuity, after retirement. Even for those who qualify, the payouts received each month is a mere 57% of the study’s recommended household budget.
“As for the cash payments, less than 1% of older persons are eligible for ComCare while the Silver Support Scheme and GST Voucher cover only up to half of all retirees. Even if one qualifies for all three cash payment schemes, the total amount received would just be over 50% of the study’s recommended household budget.”
Asserting that there are clear gaps in public schemes to better help older Singaporeans, MARUAH called on the Government to revise its schemes “by increasing the level of financial assistance and by implementing them more effectively.”
MARUAH also expressed its support for the recommendations listed in the LKYSSP report. The research team suggested that older people should not simply be expected to rely on their families as the “first line of support” and urged for reforms given the unequal wages older workers are paid and the discriminatory wage practices they may face.
The LKYSSP team also called for the implementation of financial schemes such as public pension payments and other provisions to cover expensive healthcare costs for older persons.
Asserting that the study was successful in capturing a more accurate picture of the needs and realities of ordinary people, MARUAH said:
“We urge the Singapore government to seriously consider adopting the benchmarks set in this study in future policies and to consider implementing the recommendations put forward to ensure an adequate standard of living for all older persons in Singapore.”
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