Source: Ministry of Finance YouTube page
EARLIER this week, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered the 2018 Budget statement in Parliament. Missed his speech? Don’t worry, we’ve picked out five key points that will interest you if you’re a senior citizen in Singapore.
1. Age well, live well, learn a lot: More support for active ageing programmes
Feel assured about ageing confidently in the community. The Community Silver Trust (CST), which matches donations to Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) providing long-term care services to seniors, will receive a $300 million top-up. To provide greater support for the elderly, it will also match donations raised for active ageing programmes. The Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF), which offers subsidies to seniors who require mobility and assistive devices to remain ambulant, will also receive a $100 million boost. Another $150 million will be spent over the next five years on transporting the elderly to subsidised eldercare and dialysis centres. The government will also continue investing in lifelong learning. So, hit the books again at the National Silver Academy and choose from over 900 courses. This time, there are no exams!
2. The age of golden workers: Raising the re-employment age to 67
Many seniors wish to continue working beyond the official retirement age to remain physically and mentally active. If you are like Mr John Siregar, the inspiring octogenarian who still finds joy in working, then you will be pleased to know that the re-employment age has been raised to 67. The Special Employment Credit has also been extended till end-2019 to help firms which hire older workers.
3. Team work makes the dream work: Strengthening partnerships to support seniors
You can now look forward to having a stronger support network in your neighbourhood. The Community Network for Seniors (CNS), a multi-agency effort to help the elderly stay active and engaged with the community, will be expanded nationwide by 2020. To complement and support these expansion efforts, the Pioneer Generation Office will be renamed the Silver Generation Office (SGO) and will merge with the Agency for Integrated Care. The Ministry of Health will also oversee social- and health-related services for seniors.
Did you know that the Community Functional Screening Programme (CFSP) is part of the CNS? Functional screening checks your eyes, ears and mouth. Look out for functional screening in your neighbourhood today.
4. Bringing families together: Enhanced Proximity Housing Grants
If you’ve longed to live with or near your children, good news. The Proximity Housing Grant for families buying a resale flat to live with their parents or married children will increase from $20,000 to $30,000. If your children are single, they will either receive a grant of $10,000 if they choose to buy a resale flat near you or a grant of $15,000 if they buy a resale flat to live with you. Also, the current distance criterion will be doubled to “within 4km”.
Check out the other initiatives that help our seniors build stronger ties with the community.
5. Not so taxing news after all: 250% tax deductions to be extended till 2021
Many seniors feel that active ageing means giving back to society. To encourage the spirit of giving, the government has extended the 250% tax deductions for donations made to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) for another three years, until 31 December 2021.
Besides donating to IPCs, did you know that you can also do your part by volunteering as a senior befriender? Make a difference to seniors who are socially isolated today.
To watch the Singapore 2018 Budget webcast, click here.