Where To Get Financial Assistance In Singapore For Low Income Families

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 11 March, 2024

Low-income families in Singapore can tap into several financial assistance and support schemes offered by both government and private organisations. In this guide, we detail the different schemes that are available and how to access them. 


Financial assistance for low-income families in Singapore

Sometimes, when life gets tough, we think we have limited options, such as getting personal loans or emptying our savings. Fortunately, there are a total of 55 financial assistance schemes offered in Singapore that you can turn to. These social support schemes are led by various government agencies and range from national-level initiatives like GST Vouchers to granular programmes tuned to help address specific needs. 

Additionally, there are a number of private welfare organisations that also offer assistance, and those struggling to make ends meet may consider approaching them for support and relief. 

There may be a stigma attached to reaching out for help, but sometimes, circumstances and events out of our control can cause us to fall through the cracks. The important thing is to obtain the help you need so you can get back on your feet and give your family a fighting chance at improving their lives. 

Table of contents



What counts as a low-income family in Singapore?

There is no official definition or income cut-off point that designates a low-income family, which is part of the reason why finding the right source of help can be confusing. Different support schemes have different eligibility criteria to ensure help gets to those who truly need it. 

Nonetheless, by checking various eligibility criteria, we can establish some benchmarks. The threshold for low-income families ranges from S$500 to S$3,000 in terms of household income per capita. 

This range is derived from the income eligibility standards for the following financial assistance schemes. 

ComCare Short to Medium Term Assistance

monthly household income less than S$800 per person

Medishield subsidies for lower income households

household monthly income less than S$1,200 per person

Public Transport Vouchers

household monthly income less than S$1,600 per person

Workfare Income Supplement Scheme 

gross monthly income of S$500 to S$3,000 (if married, assessable income of applicant's spouse must not exceed $70,000)

lives in a property with an Annual Value of up to S$21,000

 


How to apply for financial assistance in Singapore?

For government-run assistance schemes, Singaporeans may visit any of the 24 Social Services Offices (SSOs) located throughout the island. SSOs are set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as a holistic touchpoint for those who require help. 

They are in charge of administering the various financial aid schemes provided by the government and also work with other government agencies and community partners to better support individuals and families in need. 

You may contact the Social Service Office at tel: 63540053 or email: SSO_volunteer@msf.gov.sg


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Financial assistance schemes offered by government agencies

With more than 50 schemes on offer, covering every single one of them is beyond the scope of this guide. Instead, we’ll be focusing on a selected few designed to help with different types of needs.

Financial assistance for living expenses

#1 ComCare Interim Assistance

Immediate support for low-income families in need of urgent and temporary financial relief. Amount provided will vary according to household situation. 

Benefits:

- Cash assistance

- Food rations

- Supermarket vouchers

Eligibility criteria:

- Monthly household income less than S$800 per person

#2 ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance

For low income earners or families that need help while in-between jobs, temporarily unable to work, or face sporadic challenges in making ends.

Benefits: 

- Monthly cash assistance for living expenses

- Assistance with household bills (conservancy charges, rental, utilities, etc)

- Medical assistance at public healthcare providers

- Employment assistance (job searching, training)

- Referrals for other relevance services

Eligibility criteria:

- Monthly household income less than S$800 per person

- Little or no family support, savings or assets

- Looking for work, or temporarily unable to work due to illness or caretaking responsibilities

#3 Public Transport Voucher (PTV)

Provides lower-income households with PTVs to cope with the fare adjustment from 23 December 2023.

Benefits: 

- PTVs worth S$50 each, which can be used to top up fare cards or buy monthly passes

Eligibility criteria:

- Monthly household income less than S$1,600 per person


Financial assistance for those with disabilities

#1 Interim Disability Assistance Scheme (IDAPE)

Monthly cash supplements for elderly Singaporeans with disabilities, and who are not eligible for ElderShield.

Benefits: 

- S$150 or S$250 monthly cash payout (depending on financial circumstances) for up to 72 months

Eligibility criteria:

- Monthly household income less than S$3,600 per person (or property annual value of $21,000 or below for households with no income)

- Must not be a policyholder of (or have made claims for) CareShield Life and/or supplement, or ElderShield and/or supplement

#2 Home Caregiving Grant (HCG)

Helps with caregiving expenses for households caring for persons with moderate to severe disabilities.

Benefits:

- Monthly cash payout of S$250 or S$400 per month

Eligibility criteria

- Care recipient must be Singaporean and requires permanent assistance with at least 3 of the 6 Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – Eating, Bathing, Dressing, Transferring, Toileting, Walking or moving around

- Monthly household income less than S$3,600 per person (or property annual value of $21,000 or below for households with no income)

- Not in a residential long-term care institution (e.g. nursing home)

#3 Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS)

For persons with permanent disabilities who are medically certified as unable to take public transport and totally dependent on taxis for travel to school or work.

Benefits:

- Up to 80% means-tested subsidy for taxi travel

Eligibility criteria:  

- Monthly household income less than S$3,600 per person

- Currently not owning any motor vehicles


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Financial assistance for the elderly

#1 Elderfund

Monthly cash supplements for severely disabled lower-income Singaporeans who are not able to benefit from other schemes and have low MediSave balances and inadequate personal savings to meet their long-term care needs.

Benefits:

- Up to S$250 cash per month for as long as they remain eligible

Eligibility criteria:

- Monthly household income less than S$2,600 per person

- Medisave balance of less than S$10,000

- Unable to perform at least 3 of ADLs

- Not eligible for any other schemes

#2 Mobile Access for Seniors (MAS)

Subsidised smartphone and mobile plans for lower-income seniors.

Benefits:

- 2-year mobile plan at S$5.10 per month

- Smartphone from S$20.00 (one-time cost)

Eligibility criteria:

- At least 60 years old

- Current beneficiary of any of these government assistance schemes: ComCare Long Term Assistance (LTA); ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA); HDB’s Public Rental Scheme

#3 ComCare Long Term Assistance (LTA)

Long-term support for those permanently unable to work due to old age, illness or disability and have inadequate family support or savings.

Benefits:

- Monthly cash assistance from S$640 to S$1,930, depending on household size

- Assistance with medical expenses at public healthcare providers

- Free or highly subsidised social support services

Eligibility criteria:

- Those unable to work due to old age, disability or illness

- Elderly persons with insufficient retirement funds and whole children are low-income themselves (i.e. monthly household income per capita of S$800 and below)



Financial assistance for school-going children 

#1 MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (MOE FAS)

Grants lower-income families with financial assistance for school fees and other expenses.

Benefits:

- Waiver of school fees and standard miscellaneous fees

- Free textbooks and school attire for primary and secondary school students

- Transport and meal subsidies

Eligibility criteria:

- Singaporean students studying in public learning institutions

- Monthly household income up to S$3,000, or up to S$750 per person

#2 DigitalAccess@Home Scheme

Provides subsidised broadband and laptops/tablets to lower-income households to support their work, learning and lifestyle needs.

Benefits: 

- Subsidised fibre broadband, with monthly payment over 36 months

- Subsidised laptop or tablet, with one-time payment

Eligibility criteria:

- Staying in an HDB flat

- Monthly household income less than S$1,900, or S$650 per person

- For households with primary school children or persons with disabilities: Monthly household income less than S$3,400, or S$900 per person

#3 Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA)

Fee assistance for children from lower-income working families enrolled in Student Care Centres (SCCs) registered with MSF.

Benefits: 

- Subsidy of up to S$290, depending on your monthly household income

- One-time Start-Up Grant (SUG) of up to S$400 per child

Eligibility criteria:

- Monthly household income less than S$4,500, or S$1,125 per person

- Both parents must be working at least 56 hours per week


Private organisations with financial assistance schemes 

Besides government-run SSOs, there are multiple private organisations in Singapore that offer financial assistance. They are mostly run by various religious or ethnic groups and offer varying levels and types of support. 

Each private welfare organisation will have their own qualifying criteria and assistance methods, so it’s best to reach out directly to ones you feel comfortable with for a discussion on your situation. 

Financial assistance scheme

Organisation 

Contact 

The ONE Emergency Fund

ONE [SINGAPORE]

e: info@onesingapore.org

Project Love Lunch

New Life Community Services

e: casework@newlife.org.sg

Adopt a Family & Youth Scheme (AFYS) 

AMP Singapore

e: corporate@amp.org.sg


t: 6416 3963

Family Assistance Programme 

CDAC

e: family@cdac.org.sg


t: 6603 5599

School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF)

Sheng Hong Welfare Services

t: 6289 5022

Family Development Programme

Methodist Welfare Services

e: MWSfdp@mws.sg


t: 6478 4700

Public Assistance Programme

Singapore Buddhist Welfare Services

e: sbws@sbws.org.sg


t: 6489 8161

Zakat Financial Assistance

MUIS

t: 6359 1199

 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Are there any single-parent financial support schemes?

Single-parent households can apply to any of the various financial support schemes available for support or relief as long as eligibility requirements are met. Having said that, single parents who face particular challenges can also approach #asinglelove, an initiative by AWARE in collaboration with Kinetic Singapore and Daughters Of Tomorrow.

Q. What is the median salary in Singapore?

The gross median salary in Singapore for 2023 was S$4,550 for full-time workers and S$1,200 for part-time employees. These figures exclude employers’ CPF contributions. 

Accordingly, many of the financial assistance schemes offered by the government are targeted at families earning significantly less than the national median income, putting them well in the lower income bracket. 

Q. How does the Singapore government help the poor?

The Singapore government provides a total of 55 schemes that provide financial support to help defray the rising costs of living. These schemes are targeted at middle and lower-income Singaporeans, with those in the greatest need getting the highest amount of financial relief.

Apart from direct financial payouts, the Singapore government also offers subsidies in healthcare and housing, further increasing the resources and support available to those with low-income.

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

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