Inflation and the rising cost of living in Singapore made headlines in 2022 and continues to do so this year.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong delivered his Budget 2023 speech on 14 February 2023 and said that headline inflation is expected to remain high, at least for the first half of the year.
But he assures us that the Government will do more to help Singaporeans through the difficult period.
In case you missed the speech, here are the top four ways workers are getting more support.
Help with the Cost of Living
- Permanent GST Voucher Scheme
The rise in GST rate from 7 to 8 per cent this year has concerned many, especially the lower- to the middle-income group.
To support this group of Singaporeans defray the GST increase, the permanent GST Voucher (GSTV) Scheme will be enhanced.
For those residing in homes with Annual Values of $13,000 and below, you will receive the GSTV cash quantum of $700 in 2023 and a further $850 in 2024.
For those residing in homes with Annual Values of between $13,001 and $21,000, you will receive the GSTV cash quantum of $350 in 2023 and a further $450 in 2024.
- CDC Vouchers
To cushion the impact of the GST rate increase on eligible Singaporeans, the Government has increased the cash payout over the remaining years of the Assurance Package.
You can expect to receive between $700 and $2,250 in cash over the next five years.
There will also be an increase in CDC Vouchers. All Singaporean households can look forward to another $300 worth of CDC Vouchers in January 2024.
- Cost-of-Living Special Payment
To address immediate concerns about the rising cost of living, each adult Singaporean with less than two properties will be eligible for a Cost-of-Living Special Payment of between $200 and $400, depending on assessable income.
- GSTV – U-Save
Singaporeans living in HDB flats whose household members do not own more than one property will benefit from the GSTV – U-Save ranging from $220 to $380 per year.
Strengthen Retirement Adequacy
- CPF For Platform Workers
Everyone needs to have enough savings for retirement – including platform workers.
In November 2022, the Government accepted all 12 recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers.
One of the recommendations is to align the CPF contribution rates of platform companies and platform workers with that of employers and employees.
But one concern platform workers are worried about most is the effect on their take-home pay.
To support lower-income platform workers through this transitionary phase, they will get additional help through the CPF Transitionary Support.
These platform workers will see increased CPF contribution rates for the first four years of implementation.
- CPF Contribution Rates
The Government has increased the CPF contribution rates twice since last year so that older workers can continue to build on their nest egg.
To further enhance their retirement adequacy, workers aged 55 to 70 will see another increase in their CPF contribution rates from 1 January 2024.
- CPF Minimum Payout
For seniors on the Retirement Sum Scheme instead of CPF Life, you can look forward to an increase in monthly payout as the minimum CPF monthly payouts will be raised to $350.
The minimum payout was previously $250.
Enhanced Employment Support
- Progressive Wage Credit Scheme
The Progressive Wage Credit Scheme was announced in Budget 2022 to provide transitional support for businesses in paying lower-wage workers progressive wages.
To help businesses do this, the Government will continue to maintain a higher co-funding share of eligible wage increases for lower-wage workers under the scheme.
- Enabling Employment Credit
To help persons with disabilities be gainfully employed, the Government will enhance the Enabling Employment Credit to cover a larger proportion of wage offsets for firms that hire these people who have not been working for at least six months.
- Uplifting Employment Credit
Ex-offenders will also get more help as the Government also introduced a new Uplifting Employment Credit in the form of a time-limited wage offset to encourage firms to employ ex-offenders.
- More Support for Senior Workers
With an ageing population and more Singaporeans living longer, the Government will continue to provide employment support for seniors who wish to continue working.
The Senior Employment Credit will be extended until 2025 to provide wage offsets to employers hiring senior workers.
The Part-time Re-employment Grant will also be extended till 2025 to encourage employers to offer part-time work, flexible work arrangements and structured career planning to senior workers.
- Jobs-Skills Integrators
Workers who wish to gain more skills may not know what training programmes to go for.
Different training programmes can vary in quality or may not be relevant to industry needs.
To address this, the Government will appoint and equip Jobs-Skills Integrators to link up industry, training and employment facilitation partners.
These integrators will work with training providers to update existing training programmes or develop new ones that will close any skills gap that workers may have.
- Working Mother’s Child Relief
There will also be more support for mothers who continue to contribute to the economy.
Lower- to middle-income working mothers can look forward to more Government support through the amended Working Mother’s Child Relief.
Through the support, working mothers, from 1 January 2024, will receive between $8,000 and $12,000 in tax relief.
- Increased Parental Leave Provisions
The message is clear that the Government wants paternal involvement to be the norm in our society.
The Government-Paid Paternity Leave will be doubled to four weeks for eligible fathers of Singaporean children born on or after 1 January 2024.
- Unpaid Infant Care Leave
Parents can also look forward to more time to bond with their children or to settle caregiving arrangements.
Unpaid Infant Care Leave will also be increased to 12 days per year, up from the current six, for each parent with Singaporean children under two years old from 1 January 2024 onwards.