F. Providing More Assurance For Families And Seniors


F. Providing More Assurance For Families And Seniors

  1. 93. Next, let me touch on our plans to build a Singapore made for families – an endearing home for all of us to sink roots, grow up, and grow old in.

Supporting Families through Every Stage

  1. 94. Families are the bedrock of our society, and we will support their needs at every stage of life.
  2. 95. Let me start with support for our children, to give them a strong foundation in life.
  3. 96. We will continue to take steps to improve preschool affordability.
    1. a. At Government-supported preschools, we extend generous subsidies, so that out-of-pocket expenses are kept affordable.
    2. b. We will lower the fees further so that full-day preschool expenses for dual-income families will be comparable to those of primary school and after-school student care.
    3. c. We will do so in two stages. I will reduce monthly childcare fee caps in Government-supported preschools in 2025, to $640 for Anchor Operators and $680 for Partner Operators. This is before the childcare subsidies which all families benefit from. I will make another move to reduce fee caps in 2026, and the details will be announced later.
    4. d. I will also enhance existing preschool subsidies for lower-income families. Currently, more subsidies are given to children with working mothers. I will extend these higher subsidies to all children from lower-income families, including those with non-working mothers. This will benefit up to 17,000 children.
  4. 97. In schools, we will do more to help our children develop the competencies and values they need to thrive in a more unpredictable future.
    1. a. MOE is placing more emphasis on competencies like adaptive and inventive thinking, communication skills, and civic literacy.
    2. b. We want to encourage and recognise students who demonstrate such competencies, including by enhancing the Edusave awards.
    3. c. I will therefore top up the Edusave Endowment Fund by $2 billion to support these and other education initiatives.
  5. 98. For young couples who are getting ready to settle down and form their own families, timely access to affordable housing is critical.
    1. a. We are helping first-timer families by ramping up BTO supply and giving them greater priority.
    2. b. We are also making flats in choicer locations more affordable, and in a way that is fair and inclusive, through the “Prime, Plus, and Standard” framework. This will be implemented later this year for new BTO projects.
  6. 99. Some couples have already booked their BTO flats, but they may like to have a place to stay temporarily, while they wait for the completion of their flats. And this is especially the case for those with young children.
    1. a. Currently, HDB offers subsidised rental housing under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (or the PPHS).
    2. b. HDB receives many such applications for the scheme, and is ramping up supply to meet the demand. But in the interim, we want to do more to support such young families with urgent housing needs.
    3. c. I will therefore provide a PPHS (Open Market) Voucher for one year, to support eligible families who rent a HDB flat in the open market.
  7. 100. In this Budget, I will also do more for families of persons with special needs or disabilities.
    1. a. We know that families of children with special needs face greater cost pressures due to higher fees at education and care services. Every student at a Special Education (or SPED) school already benefits from more subsidies than a primary school student in a mainstream school. But the fees at most SPED schools remain higher than those of mainstream schools due to the higher underlying costs.
    2. b. We are studying further moves to alleviate the cost pressures on these families. As a first step, I will reduce the maximum monthly fees at SPED schools to $90, down from $150 today. I will also lower the fee caps at all Special Student Care Centres to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses for families.
    3. c. For adults with disabilities, I will provide more support for their employment and integration into the community. I will expand spaces in Sheltered Workshops and Day Activity Centres where they can undergo skills training, and launch more Enabling Services Hubs to provide community support to persons with disabilities and their caregivers.
  8. 101. The respective Ministers will share more on each of these moves at the Committee of Supply.

Strengthening Retirement Adequacy

  1. 102. I will do more to support the retirement needs of our seniors.
  2. 103. And let me start with some adjustments to the CPF system. (See Annex F-1.)
  3. 104. First, in line with the recommendations of the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers, we will continue with the next step of planned CPF contribution rate increases for senior workers. I will increase the CPF contribution rates for those aged 55 to 65 by a further 1.5 percentage points in 2025.
  4. 105. I will also provide the CPF Transition Offset to employers for another year, to cover half of the increase in employer contributions for 2025. This will help to cushion the impact on business costs.
  5. 106. Second, I will raise the Enhanced Retirement Sum.
    1. a. The ERS is the maximum amount that members can put into their CPF Retirement Accounts to receive CPF payouts.
    2. b. I will increase the ERS from three times the Basic Retirement Sum, to four times, from 2025. This means the ERS next year will be $426,000. This will allow more members aged 55 and above to fully commit their accumulated CPF savings to receive higher CPF payouts, should they wish to do so.
  6. 107. Third, we will take steps to rationalise the CPF system.
    1. a. Today, members aged 55 and above have a Special Account and a Retirement Account.
    2. b. From next year, we will close the SA – the Special Account – for those aged 55 and above. The SA savings will be transferred to the RA – the Retirement Account – up to the Full Retirement Sum, where they will continue to earn the long-term interest rate.
    3. c. The remaining SA savings will be transferred to the Ordinary Account. Of course, members can voluntarily transfer their OA savings to the RA at any time, up to the revised ERS, to earn higher interest, and to receive higher retirement payouts.
  7. 108. I will also enhance the retirement support schemes for seniors who need more help.
    1. a. The Silver Support Scheme provides quarterly payments to seniors who had low incomes during their working years and have less family support. I will raise the qualifying per capita household income threshold for Silver Support from $1,800 to $2,300, and increase the quarterly payments by 20%, to keep pace with inflation.
    2. b. The Matched Retirement Savings Scheme (or the MRSS) helps Singaporeans aged 55 to 70 with less CPF savings to save more, by providing dollar-for-dollar matching for cash top-ups to their CPF accounts. I will make several adjustments to the scheme.
    3. c. I will extend the MRSS to those above the age of 70. This will enable more Singaporeans to meet their retirement needs, with the help of their families, employers, and the community.
    4. d. I will increase the annual matching cap from $600 to $2,000, and set a lifetime matching cap of $20,000.
    5. e. Currently, we provide a tax relief to encourage Singaporeans to top up their CPF. But the matching grant is already a significant benefit extended by the Government. So we will remove the tax relief for the cash top-ups that attract the matching grant.
    6. f. These changes to the Silver Support Scheme and the MRSS will take effect from 2025.
  8. 109. “Young Seniors” who are currently in their 50s and early 60s will get an additional boost for their retirement through the Majulah Package. This was announced by Prime Minister Lee at last year’s National Day Rally.
  9. 110. While the package is geared towards supporting Young Seniors, Pioneer and Merdeka Generation seniors will benefit too. In fact, all Singaporeans born in 1973 or earlier will receive at least one component of the Majulah Package. Let me explain. (See Annex F-2.)
    1. a. First, I will provide an Earn and Save Bonus, to help seniors earning up to $6,000 per month accumulate more retirement savings. They will receive a yearly bonus of up to $1,000 for as long as they work, with more going to those who earn lower incomes.
    2. b. Second, I will provide a one-time Retirement Savings Bonus of between $1,000 and $1,500 to seniors with retirement savings below the Basic Retirement Sum.
    3. c. Both these bonuses will be for seniors who live in a property with Annual Value of $25,000 or less, and own no more than one property.
    4. d. Third, I will provide a one-time MediSave Bonus to all seniors born in 1973 or earlier. Young Seniors with less means will be given the higher tier of $1,500; and all other seniors will receive $750.
  10. 111. The Minister for Manpower will share more details at the COS.
  11. 112. In all, the Majulah Package will benefit about 1.6 million Singaporeans, at a total lifetime cost of $8.2 billion. To honour this commitment without burdening future generations, I will set aside $7.5 billion in a new Fund – the Majulah Package Fund. And this will be sufficient to cover the lifetime cost of the Package, after accounting for investment income of the Fund.

Keeping Healthcare Affordable and Accessible for All

  1. 113. Another significant undertaking is healthcare. Over the years, we have invested heavily to ensure healthcare remains affordable and accessible for all.
    1. a. MOH’s annual budget has tripled within a decade.
    2. b. And we have put the additional spending to good use. We are devoting more resources to areas of growing importance, like preventive health, support for our seniors, and mental health and well-being, as recently affirmed by this House. We also continue to enjoy improvements in health outcomes, with Singaporeans living longer and healthier lives.
  2. 114. But with a rapidly ageing population, the fiscal pressures of healthcare will only grow. As a responsible Government, we have to plan ahead and set aside sufficient resources to keep healthcare affordable for all.
    1. a. The GST increase was meant for this purpose.
    2. b. Essentially, we are pre-funding the rising healthcare expenditure by increasing GST now, instead of waiting to do so in the future. Because if we wait, we will end up imposing a heavier burden on our future selves and our children.
  3. 115. Of course, individuals have a part to play too. That’s why we launched Healthier SG to empower all Singaporeans to take charge of our own health. While it is still early days, the momentum is very encouraging. More than 700,000 Singapore residents have enrolled in Healthier SG.
    1. a. One of them is Mdm Rubiah, who turns 69 this year. She credits her Healthier SG consultation for timely advice on how best to manage her health. Today, she is monitoring her blood pressure daily, cutting down on ice cream and keropok in her diet, and staying active through exercise classes and nature walks. She has also helped to spread the word, by volunteering at a Healthier SG roadshow.
    2. b. Sir, I urge all seniors to follow in the footsteps of Mdm Rubiah. Heed your doctor’s advice, participate in programmes that help you stay healthy, and even pass it on by contributing as a senior volunteer.
  4. 116. Even with healthier lifestyles, all of us will still need some form of medical care as we get older, and especially nearer to the end of life. We must expect healthcare costs, including medical insurance premiums, to rise, even after generous Government subsidies.
  5. 117. We want to ensure that all Singaporeans, including the self-employed and those who are not working, are able to build up their medical savings in anticipation of these rising costs. I will therefore provide all adult Singaporeans aged 21 to 50 a one-time MediSave Bonus of up to $300.
    1. a. This will benefit about 1.4 million Singaporeans, and help them to cover their smaller medical bills and insurance premiums. (See Annex F-3.)
    2. b. And coupled with the Majulah Package for older cohorts, we will collectively provide a MediSave Bonus for about 3 million Singaporeans this year.
  6. 118. To provide more support for healthcare costs, I will also update the per capita household income thresholds for our healthcare and associated social support subsidy schemes.
    1. a. Such schemes include the MediShield Life premium subsidies, the Community Health Assist Scheme (or CHAS) subsidies for primary care, and subsidies for outpatient and inpatient treatments at our public hospitals.
    2. b. The changes to the per capita household income thresholds will mean additional Government spending in healthcare and other related areas of around $300 million per year. More than 1 million Singaporeans can expect to benefit from higher subsidies. This will provide greater assurance for healthcare costs, which will also reduce the financial pressures on caregivers. (See Annex F-4.)
  7. 119. Preventive care is especially important for seniors. Loneliness can do great harm to a senior. They need to stay active and socially connected. This is why we have Age Well SG – it is a new national programme to support seniors to age actively, stay socially connected, and be cared for within their own communities.
  8. 120. I will set aside $3.5 billion for Age Well SG initiatives over the next decade. And this includes several components.
    1. a. First, an expanded network of Active Ageing Centres, so that all seniors can look forward to a wider range of programmes at these centres, from physical exercises to volunteering opportunities.
    2. b. Second, for seniors with care needs, we will develop more assisted living options, such as Community Care Apartments and better home care arrangements, to empower them to age confidently in their homes and community.
    3. c. Third, “silver upgrades” to our residential estates, to enable seniors to live more independently and safely in the community. And this will cover amenities like therapeutic gardens and barrier-free ramps, and senior-friendly home fittings such as wider toilet entrances and shower seats.
    4. d. Fourth, improvements to our commuter infrastructure for seniors’ mobility and safety. This means more sheltered linkways, bus stops with senior-friendly features, as well as safer and more pedestrian-friendly roads.
  9. 121. Sir, when you combine of all these efforts, the suite of investments we are making – in education, housing, retirement, and healthcare – they speak to our steadfast commitment to address the needs of our families and seniors, through every stage of life. Through these investments, we will provide more assurance to all Singaporeans – to set minds at ease, improve lives and well-being, and ensure Singapore remains home truly for all of us.