Opinion
How much does a Singapore household need for a basic standard of living?
wavy line banner

Opinion

Opinion

How much does a Singapore household need for a basic standard of living?

Picture of John Doe
John Doe
a group of vegetables in green bags

In a study of household budgets by Dr Ng Kok Hoe (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), A/P Teo Youyenn (Nanyang Technological University), Dr Neo Yu Wei (National University of Singapore), Dr Ad Maulod (Duke-NUS), Dr Stephanie Chok and Wong Yee Lok (LKYSPP), a basic standard of living means “…more than just, housing, food, and clothing. It is about having opportunities to education, employment, and work-life balance, as well as access to healthcare. It enables a sense of belonging, respect, security, and independence. It also includes choices to participate in social activities, and the freedom to engage in one’s cultural and religious practices.”

To date, a total of two household budget studies were conducted using the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) as a research method for establishing the incomes needed for a basic standard of living in Singapore. In 2019 the study[1] targeted seniors and in 2021 the study[2] extended this work to the needs of households. The results helped to establish a living wage level, a wage that allows people to afford a decent standard of living and embodies the values and principles that the public identifies with across a range of domains.

So, if I have a wish for, for next year and of course beyond…. it is to have a greater conversation around wages and people’s living standards that are based on principles like these – people’s needs, what is decent, what is basic, and what will allow people to not feel excluded from society.

Recognising the importance of research on the needs of households living in poverty, the Community Foundation of Singapore collaborated with the research team to invite 25 leaders from the social service sector to learn about the opportunities and trade-offs in applying MIS in Singapore, as well as to compare income standards in different countries. It was a process to understand about the living standards from ground up experiences which demonstrated what Singaporeans see as necessary and important to thrive while living in Singapore. Without such a process to unpack the lived experiences of individuals and communities, narratives often reinforce the worldview of the dominant and are unable to account for the real habits and practices of ordinary members of society. 

The session with the social leaders was held in August 2022 and it opened up possibilities to incorporate MIS findings to review and enhance the delivery of programmes and services for marginalised communities and families.

This is an interesting discussion – we need more of these sessions for paradigm shifts within the sector itself. Social justice is one of the core principles in social work but what is “just” and is it the same as “fair”? Just or fair to who?

Participant’s reflection

The workshop invited attending social leaders to anticipate how society is changing and ask about the relevance of MIS and how it challenges or contributes to current income policies, assistance schemes, eligibility criteria for assistance and practices to ensure a minimum socially acceptable standard of living. It is also helpful for leaders from different fields to come together and share their assumptions, priorities, and values that may impact their assessment of clients’ needs and support provided.

It inspires me to imagine that when we talk about families no longer being in poverty, it is not just about being earning above a certain income (e.g., poverty line) but being able to achieve a basic standard of living. This has tremendous implications and guidance on how we think about measuring and evaluating the outcomes and impacts of our work.

In the discussions, the participants found it crucial to include multiple stakeholders such as donors and funders who will fund these programmes and dictate expected processes and outcomes. As a follow-up, another session will be facilitated to gain their perspectives and ensure the conversation goes deeper, and generates aligned perspectives.

Through these sessions, we hope to push the boundary of thinking to inspire different stakeholders. Donors can play an important role in encouraging greater giving and I hope the next session will allow even deeper conversations

This article was written by Joyce Teo, an executive director of Centre for Applied Philanthropy. Joyce leads the CAP team and works with donors and non-profit organisations to address the critical gaps in strategic philanthropy in Singapore.

References

[1] 2019 Household Budget Study: What older people need

[2] 2021 Household Budget Study: What people need in Singapore

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

News

The CDA top-up programme: Giving support to pre-school children from low-income families

Picture of John Doe
John Doe
A diverse group of children and adults, all wearing masks, gather together in a united display of safety and responsibility.

Pre-schools are especially essential in providing a solid foundation for children to get an education, and to also build confidence and impart social skills, which will stay with them for life. As such, The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is partnering with EtonHouse Community Fund (ECF) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) on a Child Development Account (CDA) top-up programme which will benefit around 1,300 pre-schoolers from low-income families this year.

This programme is facilitated by the inter-agency taskforce Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families (UPLIFT) to provide eligible pre-schoolers with $500 this year and up to a cap of $1,500 over the next three years, with the government providing dollar-for-dollar matching contributions for the top-ups.

To qualify, the children must be enrolled in 57 pre-schools under seven selected operators, and their families must have a gross household income of $4,500 or less. CFS and ECF will be contributing a total of $1 million to the CDA top-up programme over the next three years.

The seven operators are: E-Bridge Pre-School, Iyad Perdaus Child Development, Kidz Meadow Childcare and Development Centre, PPIS Child Development Centre, Presbyterian Community Services, Super Talent Childcare and YWCA Child Development Centre.

Along with Second Minister for Education Dr Maliki Osman, CFS CEO Catherine Loh paid a visit to partner operator E-Bridge Pre-School’s Punggol Large Childcare Centre on 8 October 2020 to mark the launch of the programme and to celebrate Children’s Day.

“We have a responsibility to strengthen our social safety nets to ensure no child gets left behind. This is why this collaboration is such a wonderful opportunity for CFS and our donors to uplift children from low-income families,” says Catherine.

“I hope that this CDA top-up programme can encourage more low-income families to enrol their children into pre-schools. I also hope that it can provide additional support to needy families during this difficult period by defraying child-raising expenses,’’ says Dr Maliki Osman.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

News

The Community Foundation of Singapore: Philanthropy, legacy giving; doing good and how to get involved

Picture of John Doe
John Doe
An older couple smiling while posing for a photo, holding a flower in their hands, radiating love and happiness.

Through legacy giving, making a profound lasting change to people’s lives might be easier than you think

Dr Lim Boon Tiong had a long and distinguished career as a doctor, and it shaped his interest in helping the elderly and those suffering from urological conditions. So devoted was he to his causes that he set aside S$24m along with a list of charities he wanted to help. And when Dr Lim passed on, his daughters Sylvia and Ivy Lim had to execute his will.

“Initially, we had many questions when we saw our father’s will. The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) has put everything into a nutshell for us, so we are well-informed to make the right decisions,” said Ivy.

In 2018, the sisters set up the Dr Lim Boon Tiong Foundation, a donor-advised fund with CFS. It supports projects such as the Dr Joseph Lim Boon Tiong Urology Cancer Research Initiative at the National University of Singapore (NUH), which funds experimental research to help improve patient healthcare standards and treatment in urological cancer. Other beneficiaries of the initiative include Catholic Welfare Services (CWS), which runs three nursing homes, and Assisi Hospice, which provides inpatient and palliative care.

The gift to set up the donor advised fund is an example of legacy giving, a concept that is slowly gaining traction around the world. In 2018, charities in the United States received almost US$40 billion (S$54.7 billion) in legacy gifts. Likewise, in Singapore, CFS has managed S$67 million worth of legacy gifts to date. Planned giving is not limited to a simple donation of cash. It is a process where donors can make a more informed choice with their contributions, which can take many shapes or forms, including insurance payouts, CPF monies, marketable securities or real estate. One does not have to be a billionaire to make a lasting difference to the causes you hold dear to your heart.

As we grow more astute financially, we become more attuned to the importance of estate planning. The Wills Registry in Singapore registered 3,911 wills last year compared to 3,535 five years ago. Or perhaps, the prospect of an uncertain future and its consequences heightens our collective awareness of this need: earlier in the year before COVID-19 forced the country into shutdown, there was a marked increase in wills registered.

As part of a drive to raise awareness for legacy giving, CFS actively reaches out to professional advisors in the hope that they can appreciate the value of planned gifts and relay this passion to their clients. Advisors will also be better equipped to help clients who are already looking to give – options can be in the form of a donor-advised fund or a direct donation to support the needs of the community. Your advisors’ services will be critical, especially for pledges of complex assets.

To make the process more meaningful, it is good practice to speak directly with charities about the ways legacy gifts can support their work. Likewise, CFS is not the only option you have when considering which approach to take, and you should do your due diligence to find out what works best for you.

But if you decide to work with CFS, you are good hands indeed: founded in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore and has to date, CFS has raised over S$185 million in donations. It currently manages over 150 charitable funds and works with more than 400 charity partners. CFS does not lean towards a particular cause, so they enable grantmaking across a wide range of organisations from those helping children, seniors or marginalised individuals to education, arts and even animal welfare.

As they are always working to identify gaps and opportunities within the community, the organisation is well-placed to help donors find suitable matches for their interests and maximise the use of their donations. CFS looks to do more with your giving; fostering a culture of effective giving and raising effectiveness through rigorous evaluation of the programmes. Planning your legacy gift now also ensures that your causes can receive donations in whatever manner you see fit, be it in the form of a perpetual endowment, or expendable gifts (i.e. a donated sum that can be spent down). Both are equally valuable.

If this is something that resonates strongly with you, perhaps now is the time to take the first step. Make a legacy gift for the greater good, and see how you can change lives with an act of kindness.

Source: Robb Report Singapore

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Events

International Women’s Forum Singapore: Empowering young women for a better future

Picture of John Doe
John Doe
picture of poon yu hui, lydia lim yong yee, betty chum, nur ashikin bte rahim, lim pei shan, joyce than jia yi, and laurina tay kai yee

They may come from disadvantaged families, juggling work with school, but that has not stopped them from pursuing their dreams or even helping others. For this, ten young women were presented with the 2016 International Women’s Forum (IWF)’s Education Grants on 30 September.

Managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore, the IWF Education Grants support young women who are currently pursuing a diploma or degree in local polytechnics or universities but face challenges in continuing their studies due to financial difficulties. Many come from low income families and need to work to pay school fees or supplement their household income.

Recipients are selected for their academic performance, as well as resilience and aspirations. During the selection process, the Education Grants Committee also highlighted that despite their difficult circumstances, many of the recipients still found time to give back to the community by taking part in voluntary work such as befriending the elderly and mentoring young children and teens.

At the dinner reception held at CapitaGreen and hosted by IWF Singapore leaders including Dr Aline Wong, Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Arfat Selvam, Saw Phaik Hwa, Chong Siak Ching, Carmee Lim, Goh Swee Chen and Doreen Liu, recipients and mentors mingled and exchanged anecdotes and advice. The young ladies also took to the floor to share their struggles with work and studies, for some the responsibility of caring for ill or unemployed parents and above all their unwavering quest for further education.

The IWF women leaders applauded the strength and determination shown by the recipients and invited them to be ambassadors at the IWF Singapore 20th Anniversary Conference in 2017 so that they can continue to be an inspiration to others. As part of the mentoring programme, IWF leaders will impart guidance, career counselling and life skills to empower these young ladies for the future.

At the 20th Anniversary Conference, the organisation hopes to raise $250,000 to enable and empower even more young women to change the outcomes of their lives as well as their families’.

About the International Women’s Forum

The International Women’s Forum is a singularly unique organisation comprised of more than 6,400 dynamic women leaders in 34 countries and 75 forums around the world. IWF members span careers, cultures and continents, however, they are wholly aligned in their commitment to building better global leadership.

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Events

The case for philanthropy in the arts

Picture of John Doe
John Doe
a person giving a presentation to a group of people

At the second edition of Art World Forum 2017: Creating Markets: Opportunities, Challenges and the Mainstream held on 27 September, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) was invited to present the significance of philanthropy for the arts to an audience of art, thought and business leaders from the sector.

Moderated by Anne-Marie Clavelli, Head of Development and Strategy at CFS, along with Kola Luu, Director of Partnership Development from the National Gallery Singapore, the panel session on Art x Philanthropy: An Opportunity touched on two key questions: What is the value of the arts in a dynamic society like Singapore? Can philanthropy play a more strategic role in increasing a city’s cultural capital?

Both Anne-Marie and Kola backed up the discussion with statistics showing that while giving to the arts has been on the rise, it has also yet to mature to its full potential. Arts and Heritage only accounted for 7.1% of philanthropic donations in 2016, as compared to Social and Welfare (32.2%) and Education (25%)*.

“Why is it important for the private sector to become more involved in funding the arts?” asked Anne-Marie, “What we’ve seen across our work in CFS is that philanthropic efforts do not “substitute” government funding for causes, but address the gaps within an eco-system that the government might not be able to tackle.”

“The private sector can deliver a much-needed boost through sustained giving to the arts sector. This is particularly important as it takes time to cultivate and nurture the next generation of artists and audiences.”

Kola also noted foundations such as the Li Ka Shing Foundation and Temasek Foundation have recently added ‘building social capital’ as a key philanthropic goal. He added that art institutions could work towards demonstrating that their cause goes beyond mere art appreciation, and the arts contributes to future proofing the economy by nurturing a new generation of thoughtful, critical thinkers.

Charlotte Koh from the National Arts Council posed a question to the panellists regarding the need for strategies to sustain giving to the arts, in the face of yearly fluctuations in donations. While Kola highlighted that philanthropy to the arts should be viewed as a long-term endeavour which naturally has its ups and downs, Anne-Marie sounded an optimistic note, “Ultimately, giving to the arts is about the value of creativity in society. Singapore is a creative society, and donors will want to reflect that in how they spend their charitable dollars.” 

News coverage on the event by Luxuo can be read here.

* Source: Commissioner of Charities Annual Report 2016
Photo: Art World Forum

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Trending Stories

Scroll to Top