The Singapore Government has done a great job in ensuring there is enough help for low-income families in Singapore. There are many different types of financial assistance available here, whether it is through grants(such as CPF Housing grants), rebates, or other forms of assistance.
One of the most important types of organisations that help Singaporeans with assistance is Self-Help Groups(SHG). Over here, we have 4 main SHGs which cater to the needs of the communities, namely – Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), Eurasian Association (EA), Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) and the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF).
You might have seen their names appearing on your payslips – employees are required to make monthly contributions to these SHGs funds, depending on their race. These monthly contributions are typically deducted automatically from employees’ salaries and are targeted at helping the less privileged and low income households in the individual communities.
Let’s take a look at what type of assistance you can get from each of these Self Help Group:
The CDAC has a large number of programmes that can provide assistance for different groups within the Chinese community in Singapore.
In terms of financial assistance, the CDAC has a bursary programme that aims to help needy students cope with schooling expenses, including transport, meals and take part in enrichment and holiday programmes organised by CDAC. Gross monthly household income will need to be below (Before CPF contribution) $1,900, or Per Capita Income (Before CPF contribution) not exceeding $650.
Other wise, there are also academic support for students, such as tuition programmes, enrichment programmes, as well as -Level Consultation.
Called the CDAC-SFCCA Hardship assistance Fund, the CDAC provides a short-term hardship grants to singles or families facing financial hardship. Application and type of assistance will be assessed and determined on a case-by-case basis, but you’d need to meet the criteria of monthly gross household income not exceeding $1,900 or per capita income not exceeding $650.
There is also a family resource programme that conducts talks and workshops to support various family members in managing personal and family matters. Some examples of such courses include financial management courses, healthy living and life skills.
As more and more Singaporean workers get displaced and retrenched, the CDAC is also drumming up their efforts to help workers stay employed and offer assistance to those who lost their jobs. The Workfare programme helps to provide various assistance in terms of financial assistant for basic household bills, grocery vouchers, tutoring group for children, ad guidance in skills upgrading nd job search.
Education is one of the three pillars on which the Eurasian Association was founded so they have focused on providing quite a number of initiatives for students across all ages and especially focus on those from families facing challenges.
One of their main events is the annual Eurasian Community Fund (ECF) Education Ceremony , which showcases the different categories of awards that assist in defraying the cost of education for students from lower income families and are also presented to students who achieve outstanding academic results.
There is a total of 10 education schemes available for students of all ages – you can find the details here.
The association also provides some basic financial assistance and emergency funds for those in need through the family support service. You may contact them here if you need help.
The Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) is a Self Help Group established in 1991 to uplift the socio-economic status of the Indian community in Singapore. Similar to the EA, SINDA has its primary focus on education, seeking to raise the academic performance of Indian students and youth through tuition programmes, enrichment and motivation.
SINDA offers some form of tuition programme for children of all ages, from pre-school to tertiary education. On top of that, they also provide several scholarships and bursary programmes to help students from low-income family fulfil their academic aspirations.
There is also the SINDA Family Service Centre (SFSC) which provide assistance to individuals and families facing challenges in their personal, marital and family life. While some of these programmes do no offer straight up financial assistance, they provide help in terms of subsidies and access to necessities at a lower cost. For instance, the Home Access Programme provides eligible households with home internet access nd telephony services with a broadband package at just $6 a month.
There is also the before and after school care subsidy, which will assist up to 50% for childcare fees. The School Pocket Money Fund also provides children from low-income family with money to use for school-related expenses – primary students receive $60 a month, Secondary school students receive $95 a month and Post-Secondary students receive $120 a month.
The Mosque Building Fund started initially as a fund with a key purpose to build a mosque in every new town, but was expanded to support Yayasan MENDAKI’s educational and social programmes for the community, after which it was renamed to Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF).
MENDAKI’s programmes largely target the bottom 30 per cent of the Malay/Muslim population and are therefore highly subsidised. Other than providing educational programmes, Mendaki also provides educational financial assistance through the Education Trust Fund for families with net household income of $1,800 or PCI of $450.
There are numerous scholarships and bursaries given out under Mendaki, a Tertiary Tuition Fee.