Photo of Tan Chuan Jin with elderly from Facebook

In the latest welfare figures from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) today (Dec 9), the number of households on welfare jumped 7% from 27,461 in FY2014 to 29,511 in FY2015. 87,000 individuals received a total of S$130 million in welfare assistance – a 10% increase from the previous year.

The ComCare Annual Report and Trends Report also revealed that more elderly are on welfare assistance, due to the insufficiency of the CPF retirement fund. According to the report, 22% of the welfare recipients on short-term to medium-term payment are aged between 55 to 65 year old.

MSF Minister Tan Chuan Jin however dismissed the inadequacy of CPF retirement system by blaming the problem to an ageing population:

“The ComCare trends point to more households with older persons or retirees requiring social assistance. This could reflect the realities of shrinking family sizes and an ageing population. This could be due to smaller families and an ageing population.”

The former army general also claimed that unemployment rate of welfare applicants is “stable”:

“While there is greater economic uncertainty today, the proportion of unemployed ComCare applicants has remained stable.”

Another growing casualty of poverty in the report is school-going children. FY2016 registered a 15% jump in childhood poverty to 9,605 from 8,339 in FY2015.

You may view the full MSF report here.

In July 2015, MSF Minister Tan Chuan Jin said of the elderly poor collecting cardboard for a living:

“There will be some who do this as their main source of income. Some do so to supplement what they have. Some prefer to earn extra monies, treat it as a form of exercise and activity rather than being cooped up at home. They do this to remain independent, so that they can have dignity and not have to ask their families for help.”

Read: Elderly cardboard collector earns S$3 a day in Singapore