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17 Mar 2022
SOURCE: CPF Board
Update 13/3/2023 - find out more about the changes to CPF in 2023 and how they can benefit you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented impact on our lives. For many, jobs, incomes, and livelihoods have been disrupted during this period.
To help Singaporeans tide over this challenging period, the Government has been providing a wide range of support measures, some of which have been implemented by the CPF Board (CPFB). CPFB also plays a key role in ensuring that various Government grants and social transfers are promptly and accurately disbursed to citizens.
Here's a round up of the support measures that have been providing financial support for citizens.
GST Voucher Scheme (GSTV)
The permanent GST Voucher (GSTV) scheme was first introduced in 2012 and aims to help lower- to middle-income Singaporeans cope with GST expenses. It is distributed yearly as cash, MediSave grants and U-Save.
Provides cash for immediate needs
August each year
Top-up to CPF MediSave account to support medical needs
Elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and above
August each year
Quarterly rebates to offset utility bills
Lower- and middle-income HDB households
January, April, July and October each year
For the cash component, $399.7 million was disbursed and received by 1.3 million Singapore citizens in 2020. In 2021, the Government announced a one-off GSTV—Cash Special Payment. $667.3 million was received by 1.4 million Singapore citizens in cash.
For the MediSave tranche, $152.9 million was disbursed into the MediSave accounts of 525,000 Singaporean citizens in 2020. In 2021, a total of $161.6 million was credited to 554,000 Singapore citizens’ MediSave Account.
Care and Support Package
In 2020, a one-off Care and Support Package was announced to help Singaporean citizens cope with expenses during the period of extraordinary economic uncertainty.
A total of $1.5 billion in cash was disbursed to 2.7 million Singaporean citizens under the cash payout tranche of the Care and Support package.
To further support Singapore residents during the challenging COVID-19 period, a total of $1.6 billion was received by 2.8 million Singapore citizens, and $33.9 million were received by 113,000 Permanent Residents. This helped many to tide through the period of heightened safe distancing measures due to COVID-19.
Market and Hawker Centre Relief Fund
In 2021, stallholders in hawker centres managed by NEA and NEA appointed operators affected by COVID-19 cases in hawker centres and markets were given a one-off cash assistance to help them tide over the difficult times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of $5.4million was disbursed to 10,891 stallholders who are Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
Workfare Income Supplement Scheme (WIS)
The Workfare Income Supplement Scheme (WIS) encourages eligible workers to work and build up their CPF savings. It provides them with cash payments and additional CPF contributions, with the aim to supplement their income and retirement savings.
This scheme has been enhanced in 2020 by extending the eligibility to workers earning up to $2,300 a month. It provided workers with a higher annual payment of up to $4,000.
Enhancements to the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme
In the 2022 budget, the Government announced enhancements to the WIS scheme from 1 January 2023 onwards.
Here’s a summary of enhancements to the WIS scheme:
1. Qualifying monthly income raised from $2,300 to $2,500
2. Extension of Workfare to those aged 30 to 34
3. Higher annual Workfare payouts of up to $4,200 per year, as compared to $4,000 today
4. All persons with disabilities (PWDs) will qualify for the highest Workfare payout tier (up to $4,200) regardless of age
5. Minimum qualifying monthly income criterion of $500
These enhancements will allow more workers to benefit from the WIS scheme when it is implemented next year.
Workfare Special Payment (WSP)
Under the WIS scheme, the Workfare Special Payment (WSP) is a one-off payment to Singaporean lower-wage workers.
All Singaporean employees and Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) who have received Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payment for work done in Work Year (WY) 2019 would have automatically received WSP in 2020. This was subsequently extended to those who received WIS for work done in WY2020.
Eligible recipients have received a payment of $3,000.
In 2020, more than 492,000 Singaporeans received payments amounting to $1.4 billion.
Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)
The Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) was introduced in 2020 to support Singaporean self-employed persons (SEPs) whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 situation.
Under this scheme, there were three quarterly cash payouts of $3,000 each in May, July and October 2020.
The eligibility criteria were also broadened beyond Workfare to enable more SEPs to qualify for this payment.
About $1.8 billion was disbursed to over 200,000 SEPs, including about 105,000 SEPs who received SIRS automatically from the CPFB.
5-Year MediSave Top-up Scheme
The 5-Year MediSave Top-up Scheme was first announced in Budget 2019 to help Singaporeans with their future healthcare expenses. It aims to help those who were born on or before 31 December 1969 and do not receive Pioneer Generation or Merdeka Generation benefits. Eligible citizens will receive an annual MediSave grant of $100 credited into their MediSave accounts from 2019 to 2023.
Under this scheme, $55 million was received by 555,000 Singapore citizens aged 50 and above in their MediSave accounts to support their healthcare needs.
Matched MediSave Contribution Scheme (MMCS)
The Matched MediSave Contribution Scheme (MMCS) was introduced to help eligible SEPs who have participated in the Contribute-As-You-Earn (CAYE) scheme.
The CAYE scheme helps SEPs contribute to their MediSave as and when they receive service payments.
SEPs who have made contributions from 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021 under CAYE were eligible to receive the one-off matched MediSave contributions, capped at $600.
In 2020, about 4,000 SEPs benefitted from this scheme, amounting to close to $1 million in total.
Silver Support Scheme
The Silver Support Scheme was introduced to provide seniors additional support for their retirement years.
It aims to help seniors who had low incomes during their working years by providing quarterly cash payouts, with the payout amount ranging from $180 to $900 each quarter.
Singaporean citizens aged 65 and above will be eligible for the scheme if they meet all these criteria:
- Live in a household that earns ≤ $1,800 per person
- Live in a 5-room or smaller flat
- Do not own 5-room or larger flat, and do not own private or multiple properties (both individual and spouse)
- Contributed ≤ $140,000 to CPF by age 55. If self-employed, earned ≤$27,600 annually between age 45 and 54
Under the Silver Support Scheme, a total of $395.8 million was disbursed to over 154,000 seniors in 2020.
Amidst the challenges faced during COVID-19, such support measures have helped to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
And as Singapore transitions towards becoming a COVID-19 resilient nation, we are confident in emerging stronger than before.
Information in this article is accurate as of 17 March 2022.