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A 5-minute guide to the latest support measures for families from Budget 2018
Population Trends Articles

A 5-minute guide to the latest support measures for families from Budget 2018

Newly wed couple

If you and your partner are planning to settle down, or if you are already married and looking to start a family, you might have heard the news about the recent enhancements to better support young families in Singapore.

They range from helping young couples with their housing needs to strengthening the preschool sector and enhancing work-life support.

Here is a quick five-minute guide to the marriage and parenthood measures announced during Budget/Committee of Supply. After all, good news must share.

1) More help for young couples in securing their first home faster

Many young couples hope to have a home of their own before starting a family.

That is why the Housing Development Board (HDB) will be launching 1,100 flats with a shorter waiting time of between two to three years, instead of the usual three to four years, in Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun this year.

An additional 2,000 such flats will be launched in 2019.

At the same time, the Government will also help young couples who are ready to settle down to apply for their flats earlier.

From the May 2018 Built To Order/SBF exercise onwards, student/ NSF couples will be allowed to defer their income assessment for housing grant and loan eligibility to just before key collection, instead of when they apply for their flat. This means that they can apply for their flat first, and have some time to build up their finances before being assessed for housing grants and loans.

But the rules will be tweaked to allow couples to apply for their flats first. The income assessment will be done just before they collect their keys. This should slash the waiting time for aspiring homeowners by about a year.

Could faster access to flats help some couples to get married and have more babies early? We certainly hope so!

2) Proximity Housing Grant enhanced

HDB estate

Miss your mum’s cooking and can’t bear the thought of moving away from your folks? No sweat.

The Government is providing more support for young Singaporeans to live with or near their parents by enhancing the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG).

Families buying a resale flat to live together with their parents or their married children can now receive a grant of $30,000, up from $20,000.

The proximity condition for the PHG has also been simplified to a distance-based one – a radius of 4km, which will give families more choices of flats in neighbouring towns.

3) More assistance for couples who face difficulties conceiving

Starting a family is not always easy, especially for couples who try conceiving later in life. For couples who face difficulties conceiving, it can be a long and challenging journey.

Today, couples who undergo Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) treatment are eligible for co-funding of up to 75% of the costs. To ease the burden for such couples and further defray the costs of ART treatment, the Government has increased the maximum co-funding quantum from $6,300 to $7,700 for fresh cycles, and from $1,200 to $2,200 for frozen cycles, from 1 April 2018 onwards.

4) Stronger healthcare assurance

KKH Buildings

Today, MediShield Life, which is the national healthcare insurance plan, helps to pay for large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments. All newborn citizens receive a Medisave grant of $4,000 that covers their MediShield Life premiums up to the age of 21.

To help expectant mothers go through their pregnancy with greater peace of mind, the Government will be extending MediShield Life to cover serious pregnancy and delivery-related complications.

5) Strengthening the preschool sector

Little girl with toy

Babies are bundles of joy, and it is important to ensure that they are well cared for.

To give parents greater peace of mind that their children are well taken care of while they work, the Government will continue to ramp up provision of affordable and quality preschool places, with a focus on new estates with many young families. Over the next five years, there will be 40,000 new full-day preschool places to meet the needs of parents.

The Government has also announced fresh plans to upgrade and further professionalise the early childhood sector, by developing more efficient and innovative services and improving the training and development of early childhood professionals.

These plans under the Early Childhood Industry Transformation Map will ensure that the sector can cater to rising demand while providing quality services.

6) Stronger support to help Singaporeans manage work and family

The Government is also taking steps to strengthen work-life support.

Moves are being made to encourage employers to adopt family-friendly practices such as providing more caregiving leave. The new Tripartite Standard on Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs encourages employers to provide up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave for employees with infants with unexpected care needs, such as those with congenital conditions, or in cases of multiple or preterm births. The Standard also provides up to 2 weeks of unpaid leave for employees with immediate family members who are hospitalised.

At the same time, the Government will also extend and enhance the Work-Life Grant, which provides financial incentives to employers for employees to adopt flexible work arrangements (FWAs).  In October last year, the Government also introduced the Tripartite Standard on FWAs to encourage more employers to offer FWAs in their companies.

More information can be found at http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/good-work-practices/work-life-grant.

 The range of enhancements is aimed at making it easier for couples to obtain their own homes, start and raise a family and enjoy better work-life harmony – in short, making Singapore a great place for families!

Infographic: Support Measures for Achievable, Enjoyable and Celebrated Parenthood


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