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SINGAPORE: Lower-income households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to receive more financial support under The Courage Fund, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) said on Sunday (Aug 1).

Singapore returned to tighter Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures last month amid a surge in locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, most of which are linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster, which has 1,027 infections as of Saturday.

The Courage Fund was established in 2003 to provide relief to victims of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, as well as healthcare workers and their dependants. The fund is also used to provide relief and support for those affected by COVID-19.

READ: About S$11.5 million raised under The Courage Fund for those affected by COVID-19 outbreak

Under the fund, lower-income households are eligible for a one-time lump sum of up to S$1,000 if a household member contracts COVID-19 or is placed on home quarantine order, stay-home notice, or leave of absence.

The assistance quantum is based on the household’s per capita income after being affected by COVID-19. As at Jul 13, more than 2,300 households have been assisted under this scheme.

From Sunday, the fund will provide up to two tranches of assistance to households who have been affected by quarantine order, stay-home notice or leave of absence more than once and continue to face “protracted job or income loss”, said the media release.

“It will also assess applicants based on their current income instead of their pre-COVID-19 income, to better reflect applicants’ latest financial situation,” MSF and NCSS said.

To be eligible for the scheme, at least one member of the household must be a Singaporean or permanent resident.

Households must also have at least one member who contracted COVID-19 or was placed on quarantine order, stay-home notice or leave of absence.

The household must have experienced a complete or partial – of at least 10 per cent – loss of income as a result of the quarantine order, stay-home notice or leave of absence.

For the enhanced support, the household’s current gross monthly income must be less than or equal to S$6,200, or its current gross per capita monthly income is less than or equal to S$2,000.

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Current recipients of ComCare can also apply for assistance under The Courage Fund if they meet the eligibility criteria.

As of Jul 13, The Courage Fund has received about S$18.4 million in donations for COVID-19, with about S$2.7 million disbursed to more than 2,500 beneficiaries.

“As the impact of COVID-19 remains protracted, we recognise there may be households that have had to serve quarantine orders, stay-home notices or leave of absences more than once,” said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli.

“This would hit lower-income households harder, as they deal with the anxiety of financial loss on top of the fear of potentially contracting the virus. We hope that these enhancements will help them get back on their feet more quickly.”

Eligible households may apply for assistance from the fund through an online portal.

Members of the public who need help in completing their applications may call the ComCare hotline at 1800 222 0000, email Ask_SSO@msf.gov.sg or make an appointment to visit their nearest Social Service Office for assistance.

Applications must be made within six months from the end of the quarantine order, stay-home notice, leave of absence, or discharge from hospital due to COVID-19, whichever is later. Eligible applicants can expect to receive the funds within two to three weeks upon submission of necessary information or documents.

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