Proximity Housing Grant, enhanced Baby Bonus, two weeks of Paternal leave among new family schemes announced on National Day Rally 2015

PHOTO: Thestudioloft

A new housing grant will be introduced to further help families live closer together.

The Proximity Housing Grant will go to Singaporean married couples buying a resale flat with or near to their parents, or near their married children.

It will be available to all Singaporean households including those who are not first-time buyers, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday.

The Baby Bonus scheme, which helps parents defray child-raising costs, will be enhanced.The Government will increase the amount of the bonus, he announced without giving a specific figure.The bonus will also be extended to every child instead of just the four children. The Government will also up the amount it puts into a newborn’s CPF Medisave account.

The previous boost in 2013 saw cash gifts for the first and second child raised from $4,000 to $6,000, and from $6,000 to $8,000 for the third and fourth.

Currently, each newborn receives a $3,000 grant deposited in two equal tranches – after the baby’s registration of birth, and then in the subsequent year if the child continues to be enrolled in MediShield or a Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plan.

To give parents “greater peace of mind”, Mr Lee said that this grant will be raised so that it is enough to cover the new MediShield Life premiums for the child until he or she is 21 years old. It can also help with other healthcare expenses.

Lastly, paternity leave for fathers will be doubled to two weeks so that dads “can do more”. He first introduced the initiative in 2012. PM Lee mention that the government will pay for the extra week of leave.

It will be implemented initially on a voluntary basis in order to give employers and companies time to adjust. The public service will take the lead. The enhanced Baby Bonus, Medisave Grant and paternity leave changes apply with effect from Jan 1, 2015.

 

PM Lee said he was heartened by the “promising” number of babies born last year – the highest in a decade.