Queue for benefit at Jurong West CC

Tens of thousands unemployed Singaporeans are queuing to get their one-off S$500 unemployment benefit after applications opened on April 1.

The government set up a Temporary Relief Fund giving one month of unemployment benefit, cap at S$500, to all Singaporeans and foreigners holding permanent residency.

On the day of opening April 1st, the Ministry of Social and Family Affairs said they received 3,500 applications already at 3pm. The queue stretching hundreds of metres continued on for Thursday and Friday, and likely to be massive again on Monday tomorrow.

The current unemployment rate reported before the outbreak in December 2019 was 3.3%, and the new figure is expected to be 5% after rampant company closures.

Aside from the unemployed, taxi drivers, part-time workers and casual workers queue up for the cash assistance. At least 40% of the population in the country qualify for the cash assistance.

However, S$500 is insufficient and could only last a single adult 3 weeks in the world’s most expensive city.

PAP MP Zainal Sapari told the state media he is not approving many applications for casual workers and self-employed people because they did not have proof to support their claims:

“We do have self-employed people who have their own home businesses. It’s a bit difficult to prove, where they claim that because of Covid-19, they now have less orders. But they do not have any documents to show that is the case. We also have cases where people are doing casual jobs. When the jobs are available then they are called up, but now they claim that there are fewer jobs available and that it has affected their income. So, I think one of the greatest challenges is verifying the financial situation that they are in.”