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Oral Answer by Mr Zaqy Mohamad Senior Minister of State for Manpower for PQs on Workfare and Singaporeans earning below $1,300 per month

NOTICE PAPER NO. 137 OF 2020 FOR SITTING ON 3 NOVEMBER 2020

QUESTION NO. 350 FOR ORAL ANSWER

MP: Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the current number of Singaporeans who earn $1,300 or less a month on a take-home basis, excluding employer and employee CPF as well as other deductions of income, for (i) full-time employment and (ii) part-time work or self-employment where their income will be $1,300 per month or less on a take-home basis were it to be extrapolated to full-time equivalent work. 

NOTICE PAPER NO. 139 OF 2020 FOR SITTING ON 3 NOVEMBER 2020

QUESTION NO. 376 FOR ORAL ANSWER

MP: Mr Liang Eng Hwa

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) to date, what is the total number of Singaporeans who have received the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS); (b) what is the range of the wage supplements; (c) what is the demographic breakdown of the recipients; and (d) what has been the impact of WIS on employment.

 

Answer

  1. The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s definition of earnings includes contributions of employees to social security and pension schemes. Singapore’s approach is broadly aligned with the ILO, and considers personal income to include the Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions and the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payouts, as these can be used for necessities including healthcare and housing.

     

  2. In particular, Workfare provides cash supplements and CPF top-ups to encourage eligible lower-wage Singaporean workers to work regularly and build up their CPF savings. CPF contributions and top-ups also go towards retirement savings.

     

  3. Including Workfare and CPF contributions, there are around 30,000 full-time employees among Singaporeans receiving less than $1,300 per month; likewise for 22,000 self-employed persons. These lower-wage workers also receive further support from the Government, such as Silver Support, ComCare, GST vouchers and U-Save rebates.

     

  4. Workfare remains a key pillar of social security for Singaporean lower-wage workers. Studies have consistently shown that Workfare has been effective in motivating less-educated Singaporeans, particularly those in the older age groups, to enter and stay in the workforce. This is important as workforce participation is key to supplementing their household incomes and ability to save for retirement.

     

  5. Workfare has been regularly reviewed since its launch in 2007. The qualifying income ceiling and payouts for Workfare were raised on four occasions to ensure continued support for deserving workers. From 2007 to 2019, over $6.8 billion has been disbursed to 890,000 unique lower-wage workers.

     

  6. In the past three years, an average of about 400,000 individuals receive Workfare annually. About 11% are aged 35 to 44, 21% are aged 45 to 54 and 18% are aged 55 to 59. Slightly less than half or 49% of all Workfare recipients are aged 60 and above. During the same period, the average Workfare payout received annually was about $1,560, while the maximum was $3,600.

     

  7. The Government will continue to provide holistic support to lower-wage workers. Besides Workfare and the schemes already mentioned, there are also efforts to raise standards of living for lower-wage workers in other meaningful ways, such as providing access to quality healthcare, enhanced housing grants and subsidies to help them own their own homes, education for their children and adequate support in their retirement.