The government will do more to help Singapore's families and their babies, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday in his National Day Rally speech.
The increased support will be delivered in four ways:
- A new housing grant to help couples live closer to their parents;
- An enhanced Baby Bonus scheme;
- An increase in the Medisave Grant for Newborns; and
- Longer paternity leave.
To help extended families live closer together, the new Proximity Housing Grant will be given when a resale flat is bought with or near one's parents, or near one's married children.
Every Singaporean household will be eligible, whether as first-time buyers or otherwise. The Ministry of National Development (MND) will announce the details later, said Mr Lee.
As for babies, the Baby Bonus amount will be increased by an as-yet unspecified amount, and will be given to every child (instead of just the first four children, as it is at present).
Mr Lee added that the Medisave Grant for Newborns will be increased to an amount enough to cover MediShield Life premiums for the child until age 21.
And to help new fathers, another week of paternity leave will be added to the one week currently available; the government will pay for the extra week of leave.
Mr Lee said the longer paternity leave will be implemented on a voluntary basis for now, to give companies and employers time to adjust. The public service will adopt the additional week immediately.
The Baby Bonus, Medisave Grant, and paternity leave changes will be backdated to apply with effect from Jan 1, 2015. More details on these will be given soon.