Desperate and poor, 9 in 10 elderly have resorted to downgrading to one-bedroom HDB apartments with lease as short as 15 years to withdraw as much CPF money as they could. For those who are able to meet the exorbitant S$181,000 CPF Minimum Sum, they could withdraw the excess in cash. For the majority who can’t meet the CPF Minimum Sum, they could at least get back their locked CPF in higher monthly instalments.
The HDB revealed the statistic today (Feb 25) proudly claiming that it is helping people to retire by making them sell the roof over their heads:
“About nine in 10 elderly who bought two-room flats under the Flexi Scheme have opted for shorter leases of 15 to 45 years. First introduced in 2015, the scheme offers families (first- and second-timers) and singles (first-timers) 99-year leases, while buyers aged 55 and above can choose a shorter lease. Since the scheme began, 10,230 two-room flexi flats have been booked, of which 54 per cent were secured by elderly buyers. Flats with shorter leases are much cheaper than those with 99-year leases, which experts say encourages some elderly to sell their larger flats and “right size” to a smaller unit.”
Poverty has been worsening in recent years, with a jump of 43.5% in 3 years according to officials. Elderly above the age of 60 are the most afflicted with a 74.32% jump, largely due to the low interest rate and new government restrictions on withdrawal of CPF retirement money.
In January this year, the CPF Board secretly increased the Minimum Sum to S$181,000 without any announcement. The current retirement age is 65, with plans to be scrapped according to Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.