Solidarity Budget: Criteria broadened for freelancers’ financial assistance scheme

SINGAPORE: The government will expand the criteria for the self-employed who are eligible for cash assistance, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday (April 6).

Under the previously announced Self Employed Income Relief Program (SIRS), 88,000 freelancers such as taxi drivers, real estate agents and sole proprietorships will receive three quarterly payouts of S $ 3,000 in late May, July and October 2020.

But since SIRS was announced in the resilience budget on March 26, some self-employed have said the criteria are too narrow, Heng said.

For example, those who earned an extra income as employees were not eligible.

Mr Heng, who spoke in parliament to announce further measures to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the benchmark would be improved in two ways.

First, the SIRS will include freelancers who also earn a low income from work.

Second, the annual real estate value threshold has been raised from S $ 13,000 to S $ 21,000 to include those who live in some condominiums and other private properties.

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The other criteria remain unchanged. This includes a net trading income of no more than S $ 100,000. The estimated income of a self-employed spouse should also not exceed S $ 70,000.

With the revised benchmarks, Mr. Heng said that 100,000 self-employed will be eligible for the program. You will receive three payouts of S $ 3,000 starting in May.

“In these extraordinary times, many such self-employed are hard hit. I hope that with our help we can also help others in their networks and their employees and that we keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive, ”said Heng in his speech to parliament.

READ: COVID-19 Budget: Self Employed, Corporate, First Time Job Seekers To Get More Support

But he added that those who do not need the help and do not qualify should not come forward to “seek and abuse the assistance.”

“Otherwise, you will undermine public confidence and consume unnecessary resources.”

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will help the government manage the application and appeal for SIRS, Heng said.

The Minister for Labor, Josephine Teo, told the SIRS that it is not necessary for qualified self-employed persons to apply.

People aged 37 and over who have reported a positive net trading income will be automatically notified and receive their first payout at the end of May.

“You can appeal the rest of the people who narrowly missed qualifying for SIRS and we will look into your case,” she said later in the parliamentary session.

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April 1, 2021