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Age is a consideration when distributing benefits to Singaporeans

21 Nov 2012

Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi suggested using age as an eligibility criteria for Government redistribution schemes (“Look at age, not annual value, when giving out benefits”, TODAY 15 November 2012).

As the Government’s redistribution schemes are primarily targeted at lower- and middle-income households, income and Annual Value (AV) of the home are used as eligibility criteria.

We recognise that the use of AV in considering eligibility is by no means perfect, but it provides a reasonable basis to assess a person's wealth. Among Singaporeans with the same incomes, those living in higher-end homes are generally better off than those living in lower-end homes. Even then, the $20,000 AV criterion for the GST Voucher Scheme has been set fairly broadly to cover 80 per cent of homes in Singapore, including all those living in HDB flats and some lower-value private properties.

Notwithstanding, age is also used as an eligibility criteria for some of our benefit schemes. For example, only older Singaporeans can receive GST Voucher – Medisave, which can amount to a yearly $450 top-up to their CPF Medisave Accounts. Older Singaporeans have also benefited more from the one-off transfers that have been given in certain years’ Budgets, such as in the 2011 ‘Grow & Share’ Package. We have also recently enhanced subsidies for older Singaporeans through the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which provides lower-income Singaporeans aged 40 and above with subsidised care at private clinics near their homes. The subsidy framework for the intermediate and long term care sector was recently enhanced at Budget 2012 as well so that more older Singaporeans from the middle-income group can benefit.

We will continue to explore avenues to refine the eligibility criteria of Government redistribution schemes to benefit those who need greater support.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Director (Corporate Communications)
Ministry of Finance