Singapore Budget 2019: Everything parents need to know about it

Singapore Budget 2019: Everything parents need to know about it

Here's what parents should know about Singapore Budget 2019.

Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered the Budget statement on Feb 18 in Parliament. His speech reflected many key changes in education, healthcare, security and defence. But how will Singapore Budget 2019 affect Singaporean parents? 

Singapore Budget 2019: What parents should know

One of the biggest things that Minister Heng announced today were the priorities placed on social measures in the Singapore Budget 2019, as part of the Government’s long-term plan to build a caring and inclusive society. 

They are driven by three main strategies:
– Uplifting Singaporeans to maximise their potential
– Providing greater assurance for healthcare
– Fostering a community of care and contribution.

The government plans to uplift Singaporeans to maximise their potential and providing access to opportunities through their stages of life.

For parents and families

The Government will also help older Singaporeans stay in the workforce, so that they can earn and save more for retirement. “We want our seniors to stay healthy and active in their silver years,” Minister Heng said in his speech.

1. There will be a greater emphasis on early childhood education and care.

2018 MOE Kindergarten Open House

“The Government spent about $1 billion on the pre-school sector in 2018. This is more than two and a half times of the $360 million that it spent in 2012.

It subsidises over 90 per cent of the total cost of educating children. This means that a child entering primary school in 2018 will receive over $130,000 in education subsidies by the time he or she completes secondary education,” says Minister Heng. 

2. Promoting more inclusivity

In Minister Heng’s speech, he also emphasised that children from disadvantaged backgrounds will be paid more attention, to give them a good start in life.

3. Better healthcare for lower-to-middle-income families

The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) was introduced in 2012 to help lower- to middle-income families by making primary care and basic dental care at clinics near their homes more affordable.

Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will be enhanced, and extended to cover ALL Singaporeans, including higher subsidies for complex chronic conditions.

CHAS subsidies at GP clinics will be enhanced in three ways:
– CHAS will be extended to cover all Singaporeans for chronic conditions, regardless of income.
– Lower-to-middle-income Singaporeans who are CHAS Orange cardholders currently receive CHAS subsidies for chronic conditions only. The government will extend subsidies for common illnesses as well to this group.
– It will also increase the subsidies for complex chronic conditions.

4. Children from lower-income families get even more support

Through the recently enhanced MOE Financial Assistance Scheme, children from lower-income families will receive more support.

5. Tax reliefs for middle and lower income families 

The Government will provide an income tax subsidy of 50%, subject to a cap of $200, for the Year of Assessment 2019. The age limit of 12 years and below for children will also be removed. This is to provide greater support for working mothers with handicapped and dependent children.

6. Edusave top ups for students

Singapore budget 2019

Source: Screenshot from Channel News Asia Facebook Live video | Singapore Budget 2019

Primary and secondary students will be getting a $150 top-up in their Edusave accounts. Those 17- 20 to get up to $500 in post­-secondary education accounts to assist parents with tertiary education costs. 

Singapore Budget 2019: For your ageing parents

Singapore budget 2019

Source: Screenshot from Channel News Asia Facebook Live video | Singapore Budget 2019

Those who have parents who are still working, there is good news. The government will also be looking to strengthen financial protection for long-term care to provide greater healthcare assurance to the elderly.

The government has announced that there will be more support for lower-wage workers, through the Workfare and Silver Support systems. These schemes supplement incomes and mitigate inequality in the working and retirement years respectively.

1. Workfare and Silver Support

The Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme provides cash payouts and CPF top-ups for workers whose earnings are in the bottom 20 per cent, with some support for those slightly above.

WIS will be enhanced to better support lower-wage workers. From January 2020, the qualifying income cap will be raised from the current $2,000 to $2,300 per month.

Maximum annual payouts will be increased to $400.

For example, workers aged 60 and earning $1,200 a month will now receive $4,000 per year from WIS, or almost 30 per cent of their wages.

2. Careshield Life and ElderFund

According to Minister Heng’s speech, one in two healthy Singaporeans aged 65 could become severely disabled in their lifetime and may need long term care. 

MediShield Life is already in place to protect against large hospital bills for life. However, a new scheme, CareShield Life (which is a disability insurance) will be introduced from 2020 (an enhancement from the ElderShield Scheme).

Payouts of at least $600 per month for those who become severely disabled under this new plan will be given to policyholders. Minister Heng encourages those born in 1979 or earlier to join CareShield Life when it is made available. 

Another option, ElderFund to be introduced from next year (for those who are not eligible for CareShield Life or for those who have low MediShield balances).

3. Merdeka generation benefits

Singapore Budget 2019: Everything parents need to know about it

One of the most anticipated talking points of the Singapore budget 2019 announcement is the Merdeka generation benefits. Earlier promised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the Merdeka Generation (MG) scheme is something many are looking forward to.

To support and encourage an active lifestyle for the eldery, all Merdeka Generation (MG) seniors will receive a one-time $100 top-up to their PAssion Silver cards.

They will also receive a MediSave top-up of $200 a year for five years. This will start from this year until 2023. This is on top of GST top ups. 

MG seniors will receive additional subsidies for outpatient care, for life. They will receive special CHAS subsidies, for common illnesses, chronic conditions and dental procedures. They will also enjoy additional MediShield Life premium subsidies, for life, starting from 5 per cent of their MediShield Life premiums, and increasing to 10 per cent after they reach 75. 

The Government will provide an additional participation incentive of $1,500 for MG seniors who join CareShield Life, when it becomes available for existing cohorts in 2021. Those born in the 1950s and who obtained citizenship by 1996 will be eligible for the MGP.

The Government will extend the MGP benefits to those born in 1949 or earlier, however, those in this age group will miss out on the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP), if they obtained citizenship by 1996.

All eligible seniors will receive the MGP benefits, regardless of their income. They will be notified by April 2019, and will receive their Merdeka Generation cards starting from June 2019.

Singaporeans aged 50 and above in 2019 and who do not get Merdeka or Pioneer Generation benefits will get a MediSave top-up of $100 a year for 5 years. 

4. More help for lower-income families and pensioners

Under ComCare Long-Term Assistance, cash assistance rates will be raised. For example, a two-person household will receive an additional S$130 a month, bringing the total cash assistance to S$1,000 a month.

The Singapore Allowance and monthly pension ceiling will also increase by S$20 per month each, to S$320 and S$1,250 respectively. This will benefit about 9,300 pensioners.

5. Bicentennial Bonus

Singapore budget 2019

Source: Screenshot from Channel News Asia Facebook Live video | Singapore Budget 2019

Another big announcement under Singapore Budget 2019 is the Bicentennial Bonus. Up to S$1,000 in CPF top-ups will be given out to older Singaporeans. There will be S$300 to S$1,000 in CPF top-ups for Singaporeans aged 50 to 64 with lower CPF balances.

Those aged 50 to 54 with up to S$30,000 in their accounts will get S$500. If they have more than S$30,000 but less than S$60,000, they get S$300.

The amount is double for those aged 55 to 64, i.e. S$1,000 and S$600.

The majority of recipients will be women, says Minister Heng, many of them mothers, caregivers or housewives who have given up their careers for the family.

The general public will also benefit from the Bicentennial Bonus, in which the government will hand out up to $300 in GST vouchers that will benefit 1.4m people

In addition, lower-income workers who received WIS payments will get a Workfare Bicentennial Bonus. They will receive an additional 10 per cent of their WIS payment for work done in 2018, with a minimum payment of $100. This will be given in cash.

6. Tax reliefs

There will be tax amendments, such as a change to the Grandparent Caregiver Relief.

Read also: Budgeting for baby: how to save money

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Written by

Sarah Voon

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