SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mr Chan Chun Sing said Singapore needs to grow its social services much more in future.
This is in view of the changing demographics and advancements in technology, which may see a rising number of elderly singles and people with disabilities outliving their caregivers.
Social services cater to those who need social support as they may not have family members to fall back on.
"Singles may not have very acute medical and social needs today, because they are healthy... but the challenges will come in 20 years’ time, when the young singles become the old singles," said Mr Chan.
"How do you design social services that are within the community so that you do not uproot people? These are new challenges down there if 20 to 30 per cent of our people remain single throughout their lives."
Mr Chan said help and support systems will have to evolve with the changing demographics.
The new Social and Family Development ministry intends to better integrate social services at the community level, to make support more accessible.
As for manpower, the aim is to attract more retirees and housewives to meet the higher demand for social services.
Mr Chan said public expectations of such services have also changed.
With the widening income gap, those in the middle income group are also increasingly feeling unsettled.
Singapore already spends about 40 per cent of its budget on social spending — mostly in the form of transfers for housing and education.
Other areas are in social services, medical subsidies and employment.
Mr Chan said the government is always ready to do more, but he added resources will be an issue.
He said: "This government will always try do more and try to do better for our people — to the extent that some people criticise us for doing too much. The real issue for us is how to get this thing done — where to find the resources... those are the challenges that are real."
Mr Chan said resources will have to be put to better use, such as helping voluntary welfare organisations pool resources, through the formation of social service hubs.
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