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The Straits Times
Nov 20, 2023
Mr Kuah Chee Hian, 59, has lived in a rental flat in Jalan Kayu with his wife and three daughters, aged between four and six, for the past four years.
His family is one of many that may benefit from new support schemes, featuring financial incentives across four areas – employment, pre-school education, buying their own homes and clearing debt – unveiled on Nov 20.
Announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, the schemes aim to give lower-income families with children living in HDB rental flats a boost to improve their lives.
Mr Kuah’s wife, Madam Purnawati, 37, said their current two-room flat is not enough for their family of five.
“I want to give my kids a better living environment to grow up in. Right now, our rental flat is too small for all of us,” she said.
Under the new support packages announced by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, families under the Community Link (ComLink) programme will get a boost to their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings if they make voluntary contributions.
For every $1 of voluntary top-up to the CPF made by the family, a $2 top-up will be made via the new ComLink+ package, up to a limit.
This will help families to save up more quickly for their flat purchase and give them a better chance of fulfilling this aspiration, the ministry said on Nov 20.
Madam Purnawati, a permanent resident who came to Singapore 10 years ago from Indonesia, is currently not working. She hopes to find a stable job in a canteen or restaurant once she secures student care for her daughters, who are in pre-school.
This will help bring them closer to their goal of buying an HDB flat, she said.
Currently, Mr Kuah, who earns about $1,430 each month as an enforcement officer with Certis Cisco, is the sole breadwinner.
Madam Purnawati said: “I want to find a job (to) help my family, so that we can be stable. Once I start getting CPF contributions, it will be easier for us to have our own home instead of renting.”
If she manages to do so, she may benefit from support from another support package under ComLink+.
Adults in ComLink families that secure and stay in CPF-paying jobs that pay at least $1,400 monthly will receive financial top-ups of between $450 and $550 in cash and CPF payouts.
The top-ups apply for every quarter of sustained employment, up to a limit. Higher top-ups will be given when two adults in the household work.
Madam Purnawati said: “Our financial situation is quite heavy now since only my husband works, and he is still settling some housing debt from his previous marriage. Raising three young kids is also not cheap.”
Even a relatively small debt can severely impact lower-income families financially, psychologically and emotionally, affecting their ability to resolve their debts and work towards long-term goals, said the ministry.
A package under ComLink+, which is fully donor-funded, will match families’ repayments to their creditors on a one-to-one basis, for repayment of debts of up to $5,000.
Families can benefit from this repayment only once, and must not be receiving any ComCare assistance.
Madam Purnawati said: “My hope for the future is that I can give my kids a better life, and we can live in a home we can call our own.”