by Growing Needs | Sep 13, 2023 | Community, Financial Services/Grants, Resources
In this year’s National Day Rally Speech, PM Lee announced the implementation of the Majulah Package to assist Singaporeans aged 50 and above in meeting their financial needs. Seniors who are still working will be granted an annual Earn and Save Bonus of S$1,000. Furthermore working seniors also receive a one-time Retirement Savings Bonus of up to S$1,500 if their CPF balances do not meet the Basic Retirement Sum, as well as a MediSave Bonus of up to S$1,000. However, the package seems to particularly benefit lower- and middle-income workers,while seniors who are unemployed or retired will eventually miss out on the Earn and Save Bonus.
The Majulah Package serves as a strong motivation for Singaporeans to continue working even after reaching the retirement age. By maintaining a well balanced social, career and familial life, the government feels that seniors would be actively aging and finding fulfillment in their lives. Singapore raised the retirement age of workers from 62 to 63 and the re-employment age from 67 to 68 in 2022.
Nevertheless, there are two groups of seniors that are facing challenges staying in the workforce. Not only do they miss out on the Earn and Save Bonus but also forego other valuable advantages tied to being employed.
Seniors who suffer with illness and poor health are unable to continue their careers in the workforce. A new study by the SMU Centre for Research on Successful Aging (ROSA) revealed that nearly 1 in 3 older adults in Singapore felt there was at least a 50 per cent chance that they would be unable to afford basic necessities or have difficulties paying bills.
Even though Singapore has implemented Healthier SG, which aims to focus on illness prevention rather than treatment in seniors, there is still a proportion of seniors who inevitably are unable to continue working.
Caregivers are also the impacted group of seniors that stops working to care for their family members. Existing grants like the Home Caregiving Grant (HCG) provides a monthly cash payout of up to $400 that can be used flexibly to defray caregiving costs for eligible individuals with permanent moderate disability living in the community. PM Lee also mentioned the movement Age Well SG, which is a comprehensive nationwide transformation across the areas of transport, housing, active aging and care services to anchor aging in the community. The programme aims to improve the physical living environment, encourage active aging, and strengthen support for seniors with care needs in the community. However there is still so much to be done for our caregivers. A report shows that older women tend to prioritize their families, and some feel the need to take on caregiving of their grandchildren so that their adult children can focus on work.
Apart from these implementations, the government is extending additional support to caregivers through the Community Care Apartments which is an assisted living space for seniors that is planned to roll out next year. These communal homes will be staffed with staff who attend to tasks that are taken on by caregivers, with hopes to reduce the stress placed on them.
All in all, we need to create a transparent and cohesive space to recognise these groups of Singaporeans that requires additional support from the government. To ensure inclusivity, Singapore must extend support and recognition to non-working seniors and caregivers, bridging the gaps in the Majulah Package’s reach.
Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.