February 24th, 2015

AWARE applauds breakthrough Budget speech

This press release was sent out on 23 February 2015.

budget 2015The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) applauds the emphasis on redistributive policies in the breakthrough Budget speech delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam today. The DPM’s statement included a welcome commitment to the government’s redistributive role ­ with increased assistance for low­income groups supported by taxation of the top 5% earners.

“We are heartened by this recognition of the principles of collective responsibility, fairness and our duties to support one another as fellow citizens,” said Dr Vivienne Wee, AWARE’s Research and Advocacy Director. “The government has done well to increase social spending as a percentage of GDP, and to recognise the obligation of those who have benefited the most from the economy to give more back.”

Silver Support Scheme

“It is groundbreaking that Silver Support is a form of social support based on the individual needs of the recipient and not reliant on employment,” said Dr Wee. “We also applaud the automatic implementation ­ avoiding application procedures that can hinder individuals. This is a good first step toward a universal basic pension.”

AWARE welcomes the DPM’s explicit recognition of the position of homemakers and the insufficiency of CPF in providing for their needs. Silver Support will also assist those who participate in the economy without formal employment, such as freelancers and contract workers. We look forward to further details of its implementation and urge the government to focus primarily on the criterion of lifetime earnings (rather than household situation or housing type) as the main indicator of an individual’s level of need for support.

Childcare and eldercare support

AWARE welcomes the government’s recognition that more support is needed for childcare and early childhood education, including reduction of the domestic worker levy.

“This will help more families meet childcare and eldercare needs,” said Dr Wee. “However, lower­income households may not benefit from the levy concession as they cannot afford domestic workers regardless. We hope the government will also consider supporting caregiving by family members, who are usually women.”

AWARE also welcomes the universal provision of credits under the SkillsFuture scheme, which can be accessed by any individual regardless of their current employment status.

“This may assist women who are looking to return to the workforce after a period of unpaid caregiving, and who cannot rely on employers to fund their training,” said Dr Wee.

We hope that the Government will build on the promising new directions expressed in this Budget speech, and eventually address issues of eldercare more comprehensively (including paid eldercare leave). We hope in future years to see fuller recognition and material support of women who leave the workforce to care for their families, at great personal cost. These issues were highlighted in AWARE’s B​udget recommendations from January​as requiring significant state planning and resource allocation.

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