Press Releases

More Comprehensive Convenient and Coordinated Support for Low Income and Vulnerable Families

05 Mar 2019

1. To better support low-income and vulnerable families, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will increase the assistance provided by ComCare schemes. MSF will also strengthen social service delivery in partnership with government agencies and community organisations, so as to provide more Comprehensive, Convenient and Coordinated support for these families.

Increase in ComCare Assistance

2. MSF will raise the cash assistance rates for families receiving ComCare assistance from 1 July 2019. A one-person household on ComCare Long-Term Assistance will receive $600 per month, an increase from the current rate of $500 per month. Larger households will receive higher amounts – for instance, a four-person household will get $1,750 a month, up from the current $1,450 a month. The increase in LTA cash assistance rates will benefit some 4,000 households, the majority of whom are elderly with little or no family support. The cash assistance is part of a package of support for LTA households, which includes assistance with medical expenses and other needs. Details of the enhancements can be found in Annex A.

3. Beneficiaries of the ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) can also expect an increase in their cash assistance if their assistance is renewed after July 2019 and their household circumstances remain unchanged, or if they need more help. The actual quantum of assistance provided will vary based on their needs and incomes. These enhancements are part of MSF’s regular review of the ComCare schemes in consultation with our stakeholders who work closely with low-income families.

Comprehensive and Targeted Support for the Low-Income and Vulnerable

4. In July 2018, MSF sketched out plans to work with MND to set up social service hubs at or near rental flats. This allows us to provide more targeted support for families, especially those with children, staying in rental flats. We have been consulting community stakeholders, including the Family Service Centres (FSCs) and the Grassroots Organisations, over the past months. They have expressed strong support for these plans, and we will launch the Community Link (ComLink) initiative this year, starting with four sites at Jalan Kukoh, Marsiling, Kembangan-Chai Chee, and Boon Lay. ComLink is expected to benefit around 1,000 families living in these four estates.

5. ComLink will provide proactive, collaborative and community-driven support to empower these families to harness their strengths and resources to improve their circumstances and achieve sustained stability. There will be programme spaces at each site for government, corporate and community partners, as well as residents themselves, to run customised programmes or deliver services to meet the needs of that community. These could include early childhood development programmes, parenting programmes, or night-time student care or childcare if such needs are identified in the community. Local implementation workgroups for each of the four sites, led by our SSOs and involving the grassroots, other community partners and government agencies, will be set up by the end of this month. The workgroups will engage the families and the local community to better understand their aspirations and needs, plan for services at the programme spaces, and coordinate complex cases.

6. ComLink will allow the community, businesses and residents to come together and pool resources to help those at risk or in need, in the spirit of SG Cares, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of fellow Singaporeans. Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Adviser to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC Grassroots Organisations (Marsiling), said, “This is a much needed initiative to provide more targeted support to vulnerable families living in rental flats. My grassroots team and I are looking forward to working with the partners and residents, to bring about tangible improvements to our families’ lives.”

More Convenient for Vulnerable Households to Receive Help

7. Vulnerable individuals and families sometimes face complex challenges and require the support of multiple government agencies and community organisations to help them regain stability. MSF has been working with our partners to transform our social services, integrate service delivery and strengthen last-mile support. The objective is to ensure that these families receive prompt and holistic support.


8. We have worked out information- and data-sharing arrangements across agencies to reduce the administrative load on clients while ensuring that each agency has a holistic perspective of the family’s circumstances. For example, ComCare SMTA clients who require additional help with their children’s childcare fees will be assessed for childcare subsidy and financial assistance, without parents having to submit the same supporting documents or repeat their circumstances again. This will be rolled out in the second half of 2019. MSF and the Ministry of Education (MOE) have put in place similar arrangements to make it easier for students whose families are receiving ComCare assistance to also receive financial assistance from MOE for their education needs. Since August 2018, students from such families who are attending the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) have been concurrently assessed for financial assistance provided by MOE. This arrangement was implemented for students attending mainstream schools in October 2018, and MSF and MOE are working together to implement this for polytechnic students next. This is on top of existing arrangements with the Housing & Development Board (HDB) for assistance on rental fees, and the Ministry of Health (MOH) for assistance with medical expenses. We will continue to pursue such arrangements with more agencies.

9. MSF also seeks to ensure more integrated service delivery for vulnerable families. Some of our Social Service Offices (SSOs) are already co-located with complementary services such as employment assistance and family services. We are using technology to provide some of these services via video-conferencing links. Since December 2018, we have piloted video-conferencing with HDB, SG Enable and the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC) at our SSOs at Geylang Serai and Bedok. Clients can now have their queries relating to other agencies addressed at the SSOs without making additional trips to those agencies.

10. By end-2019, clients will be able to access financial, employment and housing services at all 24 SSOs, either through physical co-location of services or video-conferencing with agencies. SSO @ Taman Jurong, Kreta Ayer, Chua Chu Kang, Jalan Besar and Yishun will offer the full suite of services by June 2019. Through video-conferencing links with HDB, clients can check on the status of their rental flat application, enquire about monetisation options such as the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS), or get information on the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE),directly at the SSO. Clients can virtually link up with career coaches from Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) for employment assistance through video-conferencing.

11. We will also pilot video-conferencing links with the Legal Aid Bureau for legal advisory services by Q2 2019, at three of our SSOs – Boon Lay, Taman Jurong and Queenstown. Ms Lim Hui Min, Director of the Legal Aid Bureau, said, “The Legal Aid Bureau is very happy to collaborate with MSF in this initiative, so that low-income and vulnerable families can get legal advice more quickly and conveniently, at a location close to their homes.”

Better Coordination and Link-Ups across Agencies

12. Providing more integrated support goes beyond systems, technology and data-sharing. It requires good coordination across agencies to deliver support around the client’s or family’s needs, and ensure no one falls through the cracks. To enable this, MSF has developed a set of case coordination guidelines, i.e. Guidelines for Case Master Action Planning (Case MAP), to guide agencies in supporting families with complex circumstances. The Guidelines will set out good practices and protocols to help agencies achieve a common understanding of the entire family’s circumstances and needs, and align their interventions to bring about better and sustained outcomes for the family. The case coordination guidelines will be rolled out progressively to all towns across Singapore by end-2019.

13. Families with complex circumstances sometimes face issues beyond those that they are seeking help for. To ensure that they get needed information on and referrals to the relevant agencies’ schemes and services, MSF has also been working with government and community agencies to train their frontline officers. By the end of 2019, at least 2,500 officers from People’s Association (PA), HDB, WSG, NTUC’s e2i, Singapore Police Force (SPF), Singapore Prison Service (SPS), and the Silver Generation Office (SGO)/Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will be equipped to identify clients’ needs more comprehensively and connect them to relevant help. We will expand this over time, to include more ground agencies such as Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs). This way, each frontline agency in the community could serve as a gateway for families with complex needs to other social services. Ms Nurul Diyanah Binte Anbar, Constituency Management Executive at Buona Vista Constituency Office, said, “When residents come to the Community Club to seek help, I am able to offer them assistance from PA as well as connect them to other relevant agencies like the SSO and AIC. By doing so, we hope to provide more holistic service to residents.”


Summary of ComCare Long-Term Assistance (LTA) and Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA)

Applications can be made at any Social Service Office (SSO). See to locate the nearest SSO.





Increase in ComCare LTA and SMTA

1. What are the enhancements to the LTA scheme with effect from 1 July 2019?

With effect from 1 July 2019, there will be an increase in the monthly cash assistance rates for all LTA beneficiaries. The LTA rate for a 1-person household will increase from $500 to $600. For a 2-person household, where both are LTA beneficiaries, the rate will increase from $870 to $1,000. Larger household types will similarly receive higher amounts.

For reference on new LTA rates:

2. What is the extent of increase in cash assistance for SMTA?

Unlike the LTA cash assistance, which is a fixed monthly rate, the SMTA cash assistance is intended to provide temporary support and varies according to the household’s needs and income. The amount of assistance each household receives differs. For example, low-income households with existing income from work or rent may need less assistance. For some households, part of the assistance may be credited directly to relevant agencies to offset their household bills, rather than disbursed in the form of cash.

As the needs, profile, and size of each household are different, the amount of assistance they require varies across households. The increase in cash assistance will also vary for different households. The following examples illustrate the possible increase in the total SMTA quantum that families in different circumstances may receive:

  • Example 1. A 4-person household living in a 2-room HDB public rental flat, with two adults temporarily unable to work due to medical reasons and two children in primary school, currently receives about $1,350 in cash assistance for daily living expenses and assistance with household bills such as public rental, utilities, and Service and Conservancy Charges. The household can expect an increase of about $420 in their ComCare assistance.

  • Example 2. A 2-person household living in a 1-room HDB public rental flat, with one adult working part-time and drawing a monthly salary of $500, and the other adult seeking employment assistance through Workforce Singapore, currently receives about $360 to supplement their existing income. This includes cash assistance for daily living expenses and assistance with household bills such as public rental, utilities and Service and Conservancy Charges. The household can expect an increase of about $200 in their ComCare assistance.

    The above examples are based on the assumption that the household circumstances are unchanged. If there are changes, e.g. if a family member gains or loses employment, and the household continues to be unable to cope with basic living expenses, they can inform the SSO about these changes to review their ComCare assistance. SSOs will assess their applications based on their current needs and resources, and the quanta of assistance may differ from that mentioned in the examples above.

    In addition to cash assistance and assistance with household bills, these families can continue to receive other Government and community assistance, such as assistance with their medical bills through MediFund and CHAS, subsidised rental housing, financial assistance for school fees through MOE Financial Assistance Scheme, MSF’s Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA), GST-Vouchers, S&CC rebates and Workfare Income Supplement.

Community Link

3. When can we expect programmes to start in each identified sites?

Programmes can begin in the second half of this year once we have established a clear view of the community’s needs, sized up the demand, and identified agencies to run these programmes. The Community Link programme space at Jalan Kukoh is ready for use. For the other sites, we will tap on our community partners’ activity spaces to run programmes before the Community Link spaces are set up.

4. Who can take part in the programmes under Community Link?

Families living in rental flats will be prioritised for the programmes under Community Link. However, other residents with similar needs can also participate.

5. How does MSF decide on the sites for Community Link?

We chose the four sites as they have a sizeable number of families with children living in rental flats. We also wanted to establish sites in different parts of the island – North, East, West and Central.

6. Are there plans to set up Community Link at other areas?

MSF will work with MND to assess the effectiveness of this initiative, as well as the needs of the community, before expanding Community Link to other areas. We will provide more details when ready.

Streamlined assessment for childcare subsidy and financial assistance

7. What support are families with childcare needs getting from this streamlined assessment?

Currently, low-income families need to apply for ComCare assistance at SSOs, and submit the same set of supporting documents when they apply for infant/child care subsidy and financial assistance at the infant/childcare centres. We recognise that these application processes can be taxing for families who are already facing multiple stresses.

We will revise our processes to make it more convenient for these families to get the help they need. When rolled out in the second half of 2019, it means that families who have already been assessed by the SSO can apply for infant/child care subsidy and financial assistance without needing to resubmit the same documents that they had furnished to the SSOs. With consent from the family, the SSOs will share the necessary information backend with ECDA and MSF to facilitate assessment of the family’s application for child care subsidy and financial assistance.

Streamlined assessment for additional financial assistance for school-going children

8. How has this initiative with MOE benefitted families with school-going children who are also receiving ComCare assistance?

Previously, families on ComCare assistance were required to separately apply for MOE’s financial assistance schemes, and be assessed by the respective educational institutions. They also needed to provide the same documents that they had submitted to the SSOs when applying for ComCare assistance.

With the shared assessment, families with school-going children who qualify for ComCare assistance are concurrently assessed for MOE’s financial assistance schemes without the need for a separate application to be made. This is made possible through backend information-sharing between SSOs and the respective educational institutions under MOE, with the consent of the applicant.

Video-conferencing and co-location of services

9. Does MSF have plans to work with more community partners to establish video-conferencing links?

We plan to work with more community partners to provide more services via video- conferencing at the SSOs. We are monitoring the results and feedback on the current video-conferencing links with agencies, which will guide our plans to scale up to include more community partners.

10. What other kinds of integrated service delivery models is MSF looking at?

Our SSOs at Woodlands, Geylang Serai, Tampines, Toa Payoh, and Jurong East are co-located with or near WSG’s Careers Connect or NTUC’s e2i centres, which offer career matching services.

The SSOs at Taman Jurong, Kreta Ayer, Yishun, Chua Chu Kang, and Jalan Besar are piloting the integrated delivery of social and employment assistance by the same SSO officer. Of these, two SSOs (Taman Jurong and Kreta Ayer) also have VWO-run family services co-located within the same premises, under the integrated family services model.

MSF consults community partners regularly to find new and better ways to deliver services and make help more accessible for clients, especially those who have complex needs requiring coordinated assistance from multiple agencies.

Guidelines for Case Master Action Planning (Case MAP)

11. What are the implementation plans for the Guidelines for Case MAP?

The Guidelines will be implemented in 2 phases. Phase 1 (Jan 2019 to Nov 2019), will be rolled out to 7 locales – Sembawang, Woodlands, Kreta Ayer, Jurong East, Jurong West, Bedok and Punggol. Social service agencies within these 7 locales have undergone training and are strongly encouraged to adopt the principles of the Guidelines in their case coordination efforts. MSF will be consolidating feedback on the Guidelines during Phase 1, and further refining the Guidelines before island- wide roll-out in Phase 2 from Dec 2019.

12. What will be different between how agencies are working together now, and in future?

With the implementation of the Guidelines for Case MAP, we hope to establish a common understanding among Government and community help agencies on how they should work together to support a complex case. The Guidelines articulate the need for and roles of a lead agency, and elements required for effective management of complex cases. With the Guidelines for Case MAP, all agencies would adopt a common mindset and approach when faced with any complex case.

Equipping Frontline Agencies

13. Who are the frontline officers being trained, and why were they chosen?

The frontline officers undergoing training include counter service staff at Government agencies (e.g. counter staff at HDB’s Rental Housing Department, PA Community Clubs), and officers who work within the community (e.g. SPF’s Community Policing Units and SGO Programme Coordinators). As part of their daily core work, they are likely to interact with or encounter residents in need, and can help connect such residents to the help that they need.