SINGAPORE — Young couples looking to start or expand their families are getting help in Budget 2023 to defray the additional expenses involved.
HIGHER GOVERNMENT CONTRIBUTIONS TO CHILD DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT
The Government will increase its contributions to the CDA, which is a co-savings scheme with the Government that is used to offset the preschool and healthcare expenses of children.
The CDA is opened when a child is born and has two components.
The first component is the First Step Grant, which is the initial deposit that the Government makes to the account. The second component involves the Government matching the savings that parents put into the account.
With the changes, the First Step Grant will go up from S$3,000 to S$5,000 for each child.
The Government will also increase the cap in which they match the savings of parents’ under the CDA. This will apply to a family’s first and second child.
The co-matching cap for the first child, which is currently S$3,000, will go up to S$4,000.
The co-matching cap for the second child will go up from S$6,000 to S$7,000.
To cater for the required legislative and system changes, the actual enhancements to the Baby Bonus Cash Gift, CDA First Step Grant and CDA co-matching caps will be made available from early next year, said Mr Wong.
He added that parents will be notified when they can make additional deposits in to their child’s CDA so that they can save up to the increased cap.
EXTENSION OF BABY SUPPORT GRANT
The Baby Support Grant, which was a one-off payment for eligible Singaporean children born during the Covid-19 pandemic, will also be extended to parents who had children after the originally stipulated period.
It was previously eligible to parents who had children between Oct 1, 2020 to Sept 30 last year.
Parents of babies born from Oct 1 last year to Feb 13 this year will now receive the S$3,000 grant as well.
“So to all young married couples, whether you already have a newborn or you are expecting a baby, or plan to have a baby, we have something to help you in your parenthood journey,” said Mr Wong.
The grant will be disbursed in the second half of this year.
TAX RELIEF FOR WORKING MOTHERS
The tax relief for working mothers to encourage them to continue working after having children, will move from a percentage of the mother’s earned income to a fixed dollar relief system.
The change to the Working Mother’s Child Relief will apply to eligible mothers who have qualifying Singaporean children born or adopted from next year onwards.
Eligible working mothers will be able to claim S$8,000 in annual relief for their first child, S$10,000 for their second child, and S$12,000 each for their third and subsequent children.
Currently, the tax relief for the first child is pegged at 15 per cent of a mother’s annual earned income, 20 per cent for her second child and 25 per cent each for her third and subsequent children.
The move means that lower and middle-income working mothers will receive more support, said Mr Wong.
MORE PATERNITY LEAVE
The Government-paid paternity leave for fathers will be doubled from two to four weeks. It will apply to parents who have children born next year.
However, the additional two weeks will not be mandatory for employers to provide and will be on a voluntary basis instead.
This means that employers who are ready to grant the additional leave will be reimbursed by the Government.
“This is also to give more time for employers to adjust, especially taking into account the existing economic conditions and manpower and operational challenges that many employers face,” said Mr Wong.
The Government currently reimburses employers a maximum of S$5,000 for two weeks of paternity leave taken by their employees.
Mr Wong added that the Government plans to make the additional paternity leave mandatory in due course.
Self-employed persons who have been engaged in a particular business, trade, profession or vocation for a continuous period of at least three months before their child is born, will also be eligible for the additional leave.
Mr Wong said that the move is aimed at making paternal involvement in their children the norm in society. The Government also wants to support fathers who want to play a bigger role in raising their children.
Unpaid Infant Care Leave, which can be taken up until the child turns two years old, will also be increased from six days to 12 days a year for each parent.
The increase will take effect from next year onwards for working parents with Singaporean children aged under two, and who have worked for a continuous period of at least three months with their employer.
This will give parents more to time to bond with and care for their newborn, or to settle caregiving arrangements, said Mr Wong.
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