Fortitude Budget 2020: Which COVID-19 support measures do you qualify for?
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, Singapore is cautiously easing circuit breaker measures, but life is still very different from how it was before. The Republic waits anxiously for further developments as the economy continues to slump, with businesses struggling and individuals uncertain about their financial future.
Since the last raft of support measures, the pandemic has gone from bad to worse, and the government has thus decided to once again draw upon past reserves to fund a new set of support measures in what has been named the Fortitude Budget.
What is the Fortitude Budget?
The Fortitude Budget, announced on 26 May 2020, is a $33 billion series of support measures designed to offer further assistance in the COVID-19 pandemic. It adds to the support previously offered by the Resilience Budget and the Solidarity Budget.
The Fortitude Budget includes schemes targeted at individuals, households, businesses as well as organisations such as charities.
What are the details of the Fortitude Budget schemes and who is eligible?
Here are the Fortitude Budget’s key schemes, categorised according to who can benefit directly from them.
Solidarity Utilities Credit – All households with at least one Singapore citizen will have $100 credited to their July or August utility bills. This will be done automatically and no application is needed.
COVID-19 Support Grant – Eligible Singaporeans and PRs who have had their salaries reduced by at least 30% for a period of at least 3 months will receive a monthly cash grant of up to $500 for 3 months, to be credited into their bank accounts. Apply online here until 30 September 2020. You will need to furnish documentation proving your loss of salary, as well as payslip(s) or a CPF contribution statement.
Unemployed and retrenched persons
COVID-19 Support Grant – Eligible Singaporeans and PRs who have been retrenched, had their contracts terminated or put on involuntary no-pay leave for at least three consecutive months receive a monthly cash grant of up to $800 for 3 months, to be credited into their bank account. Apply online here until 30 September 2020. You will need to furnish documentation proving your job loss or placement on involuntary no-pay leave as well as payslip(s) or a CPF contribution statement.
SGUnited Jobs – Aims to create 40,000 jobs by the end of 2020, including 15,000 public sector jobs and 25,000 private sector jobs.
SGUnited Skills – Full-time 6 to 12 month training programmes for 30,00 jobseekers who wish to upgrade their skills during their job search while being paid a monthly training allowance of $1,200. The programme will be rolled out progressively beginning in July 2020. Course fees can be paid with SkillsFuture credit.
SGUnited Traineeships – 21,000 traineeships will be made available to local first-time job seekers, with applications opening from 1 June 2020. An additional 4,000 jobs will be available to local mid-career jobseekers.
Access to Digital Devices – The timeline for helping all secondary schools students own digital devices will be accelerated.
Seniors Go Digital – Movement to be launched to help seniors adopt and use digital channels.
Financial Support for Digital Devices – Lower-income seniors will receive support to help them own digital devices.
Enhancements to Jobs Support Scheme – The scheme, which co-funds 25% to 75% of the first $4,600 of employees’ monthly salaries, will be extended for 1 more month to cover wages in August 2020. No application is needed.
Hiring Incentive – Local workers above 40 who have gone through eligible traineeship and training schemes will have 40% of their salary paid by the government over 6 months, capped at $12,000 in total. Local workers under 40 will have 20% of their salary paid by the government over 6 months, capped at $6,000 in total.
Foreign Worker Levy Waiver & Rebate – Businesses not allowed to resume operations after the circuit breaker will receive a 100% waiver and $750 rebate in June 2020, and a 50% waiver and $375 rebate in July 2020.
Deferment of Higher CPF Contribution Rates – Increase in CPF Contribution rates for senior workers has been deferred by one year to 1 January 2022.
Rental Relief for SMEs – Offset of 2 months’ rent for qualifying SME tenants of commercial properties, and 1 month’s rent for those in industrial and office properties. Rent offsets will be offered through a cash grant and the Property Tax Rebate for 2020. Landlords will be required to grant a rental waiver to SME tenants whose revenues have significantly fallen in the past few months.
Rental Relief for Government Tenants – Tenants of commercial and other non-residential government properties will enjoy enhanced rental waivers, which have been raised to a total of 2 months for industrial, office and agricultural properties, 4 months for commercial properties and 5 months for hawker centre and markets.
Financial Support for Promising Startups - $285 million of additional financing support has been added to the existing $4.5 billion worth of loans available through government financing schemes like the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme and Enterprise Financing Scheme.
Adopting E-payments – A $300 monthly bonus will be paid out over 5 months to enable stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops and industrial canteens to adopt e-payments. Transaction fees of e-payments will be borne by the government until 31 December 2023.
Digital Resilience Bonus – Businesses in the food services and retail sectors will receive bonus payouts of up to $10,000 to offset the cost of adopting digital solutions. The scheme could potentially be rolled out to other sectors at a later date.
National Innovation Challenges – The programme will be extended to include solutions to reopen Singapore safely in partnership with the private sector.
Charities and social service agencies
Enhanced Fund-Raising (EFR) Programme – Eligible donations raised between 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 will be matched dollar-for-dollar (up from 40%) up to a maximum of $250,000 per charity. The programme has also been allocated an additional $100 million so it can better support charities.
Invictus Fund – The fund has been allocated an additional $18 million to support social service agencies.
The Fortitude Budget’s key focus is businesses and individuals whose jobs and salaries have been affected by COVID-19. Have a close look at all the measures so you know what you are eligible for and, where necessary, be sure to apply for the schemes from which you can benefit.
Income wants to help you too
Income strives to offer support to customers who have been affected by COVID-19. Find out more about how Income’s Support Schemes can help you through these difficult times.
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.