MPs call for extension and enhancement to social support schemes
Calls to extend and enhance schemes to help people who fall through the cracks were made by several MPs on the first day of debate on the President's Address.
Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) called for greater discretion in assessing those who apply for help, as he shared an anecdote about a resident and her elderly husband.
To qualify for a subsidised rate at a nursing home, a senior must be living alone and not have any family or caregiver, noted Mr Seah, adding this meant the resident would not qualify if she applied to admit her husband.
But she had no choice, as she had a fall and made only about $1,200 a month, which meant she did not have the ability or money to care for him, the MP said.
Mr Seah suggested that government agencies consult volunteers and social workers who deal with such cases, so that the residents get the help they need quickly.
He added that officers in these agencies should be given more flexibility.
"I ask for civil servants, and officers in statutory boards to be given more authority to exercise discretion," he said.
Similarly, Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked the Government to discard rigidity in policymaking so that the concerns of different groups of Singaporeans can be considered.
The new MP noted in his maiden speech that the bottom rung of blue-collar households have difficulty in paying for the basics. At the same time, the sandwiched class have less of discretionary savings and therefore may be vulnerable to "ad-hoc occurrences" of unemployment and illnesses.
These scenarios impede social mobility, he added, calling for more inclusive policy design.
Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) advocated for a more progressive personal income tax system which could include wealth taxes so as to build a fairer and more equal society.
Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) also called for greater help for those who need it most, even if this meant that some here would have to pay higher taxes.
In Scandinavia, many are content to pay higher taxes because they know this means others in their society will be able to live with greater dignity, he said.