Are you self-employed? This guide will help you understand the grants available to tide over during the pandemic.
Almost all sectors of society have been affected by COVID-19, with the self-employed being one of the most severely afflicted groups in Singapore.
The Self-Employed Person (SEP) Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) and the COVID-19 Recovery Grant have played an integral role in getting self-employed persons back on their feet.
Let’s review what SIRS was all about, and the current COVID-19 Recovery Grant.
What was SIRS?
SIRS was a COVID-19 relief plan that was meant to benefit self-employed people who were negatively impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. Although most SEPs were automatically included in the scheme, some were required to apply for the scheme.
What was the SIRS payout?
Under the scheme, Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents received payouts of S$9,000 from the government. This was disbursed through three payouts in May, July and October 2020.
SIRS application procedure
If you weren’t automatically included, you had to submit an application online. The application process required applicants to submit details on their income tax for 2020 (i.e., their 2019 income).
Who were the eligible beneficiaries of SIRS?
To be eligible for SIRS, you must have met the following criteria:
If you were both an employee and a self-employed individual, you could still have applied. You may have been eligible to join if your monthly earnings as an employee did not exceed S$2,300.
You could have qualified for the programme if you were self-employed on or before 25 March 2020, and you did not earn more than S$100,000 in Net Trade Income (NTI) each year.
Your property had to have an annual value of no more than S$13,000 and you did not own more than one property. For married SEPs, their spouses’ income must not have exceeded S$70,000.
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), between April and December 2020, SIRS disbursed approximately S$1.8 billion to around 200,000 eligible individuals.
SIRS, which ran through the end of 2020, was initially announced in March 2020 as part of the government's supplementary budget.
More than half of the beneficiaries were automatically eligible, while the rest had successfully applied. Additionally, 70% of SIRS applicants processed by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) were approved.
After the SIRS programme closed, the government subsequently introduced the COVID-19 Recovery Grant in January 2021 to further help lower- to middle-income workers and the self-employed.
COVID-19 Recovery Grant: a general overview
The COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG) provides financial assistance to employees in lower- and middle-income households who are experiencing involuntary job loss or no pay leave due to the economic effects of COVID-19, as well as the self-employed.
The grant is meant to help these individuals tide this period of financial difficulty and resume work as soon as possible. The CRG pays out S$500 or S$700 to each eligible recipient, with no cap on the number of payouts per household.
According to MOM and NTUC, almost 60% of the grant’s recipients have been women. They had been unemployed for about seven months on average since they lost their jobs in late 2019.
Eligibility criteria for CRG
You must be 21 or older.
The grant is open to all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents.
The claimants must not have had a household income of more than S$7,800 or a gross household per capita income of more than S$2,600 before the loss of their employment or involuntary no pay leave.
Economic activity of employees
Employees must have spent at least six months in total working from January 2019 to December 2020 / January 2020 to December 2021 for the latest tranche.
Economic activity of self-employed persons
- If you are self-employed, you must have reported your annual NTI to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore in either 2019 or 2020 / 2020 or 2021 for the latest tranche.
- Additionally, SEPs are required to provide supporting documents on their line of work.
- Applicants must have no outstanding MediSave payments or commit to making their payments through a GIRO plan.
Job/income loss for employed persons
The claimant must have lost their job, had to take unpaid leave or been experiencing salary loss because of COVID-19.
Job/income loss for self-employed persons
If self-employed, you must have experienced a loss in NTI for at least three consecutive months, with an overall average loss of 50% compared to your average monthly NTI in 2020 or 2021.
Job search and training requirements
Applicants must have actively engaged in job search or training and must provide evidence of any of the following activities undertaken in the two months prior to application:
- At least two applications have been submitted through government-linked touchpoints
- Attended at least two interviews or registered for career coaching under Workforce Singapore
- Applied for at least one training programme listed in the MySkillsFuture portal
The CRG applicants must not be receiving benefits from one of the following grants:
- SGUnited Skills Programme
- COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund
- Seafarers Relief Package
- SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme – Company Training
Financial assistance offered under CRG
The programme provides S$700 per month for a period of three months to employees who at the time of application have been:
- Unemployed due to retrenchment or involuntary contract termination; or
- Are on involuntary no-pay leave for at least three consecutive months
The programme provides S$500 per month for a period of three months to those who meet the following criteria:
- Self-employed persons experiencing a net income loss of 50% for a period of three consecutive months
- Employees who have been consecutively losing salary by at least 50% for a period of three months
Application process for CRG
Applications are to be made online. For employees, applicants need to provide information about the employer's name and employee's position in that company when completing their personal details on your profile page. If self-employed, you need to provide information about your business, such as the name of your company and the type of business.
You will be required to upload supporting documents such as payslips, income tax notices, or Business Registration Certificates.
The grant will be disbursed directly into your bank account, based on the bank account details in the application form.
You must also provide a declaration that you have not received any other financial assistance from the government or any other organisations before submitting your application.
Application processing time
The processing time for the CRG application is about two weeks. Some cases may require more time to process as they are assessed based on their individual circumstances.
In conclusion, if you’re in financial need, tap on available reliefs such as the CRG to help get through these tough times.
SingSaver has also compared the best debt consolidation plans that can help you finance your outstanding loans.
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