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Singapore Budget 2018: S$550m increase in spending on health and social services
THE government will integrate its health and social services for seniors, and spend S$550 million more to better serve the needs of ageing Singaporeans.
The consolidating of social- and health-related services for seniors will enable such services "to be planned and delivered holistically", Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget Speech on Monday.
This means the Ministry of Social and Family Development will transfer its social aged care functions under the Senior Cluster Network and other programmes to the Ministry of Health. It will take effect from April 1 this year.
"With this transfer, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will be designated the central implementation agency to coordinate such services for seniors and their caregivers," Mr Heng said.
The Community Networks for Seniors (CNS) programme will also be progressively expanded to provide nationwide coverage by 2020.
The CNS brings together different stakeholders in a community - voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), grassroots organisations, regional health systems and government agencies - to engage and support seniors. The goals are to promote active ageing among seniors and to keep them well, extend befriending services to seniors living alone and sew up health and social support for seniors with needs.
To support the CNS expansion, the Pioneer Generation Office (PGO) will be renamed the Silver Generation Office and merge with the AIC. This repositioning will better reflect the PGO's expanded mandate to reach out to all Singaporeans aged 65 years and above.
"Our friendly ambassadors will continue to knock on doors, wearing their familiar shirts - only they will now be called the Silver Generation of SG ambassadors," Mr Heng said.
Of the additional S$550 million to be spent, S$300 million will go to topping up the Community Silver Trust (CST) which offers dollar-for-dollar matching for donations to eligible VWOs providing long-term care services.
Since 2011, the CST has matched around S$500 million in donations raised by more than 80 VWOs. To support more programmes, Mr Heng said the government will also expand the CST to match donations raised for active ageing schemes.
Another S$100 million will be used to top up the Senior's Mobility and Enabling fund, which subsidises "assistive devices and consumables" for seniors.
The remaining S$150 million is to be spent over the next five years on transport to subsidised eldercare and dialysis centres.
Mr Heng also said the government will allocate close to S$200 million yearly to increase the annual Edusave contributions, provide Edusave Merit Bursary and Independent School Bursary to more students from lower- to middle-income families as well as to boost the support given to students from lower-income families.
Students in special education schools will also benefit from these enhancements.
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