Recently, the government rejected the call to have an official single poverty line for defining the poor in Singapore.
‘Limitations’ in having a single poverty line (Today Online)
Different countries tailor their methods to identify and assist their needy according to their circumstance. Even amongst developed countries, New Zealand and Canada do not subscribe to official poverty lines. In Singapore, we use broad definitions for the groups we seek to help, have clear criteria to identify and assess those in need, and tailored schemes to assist them.
A poverty line does not fully reflect the severity and complexity of the issues faced by poor families, which could include ill health, lack of housing or weak family relationships. If we use a single poverty line to assess the family, we also risk a ‘cliff effect’, where those below the poverty line receive all forms of assistance, while other genuinely needy citizens outside the poverty line are excluded.
Our assessment process is rigorous but also flexible to cater to the genuinely needy. Singaporeans who do not meet scheme criteria but who still deserve help, can receive assistance. – Ministry of Social and Family Development
Figures from the Household Expenditure Survey of 2007/08 show that for households at the bottom fifth of income levels, each member spent 25.9% and 8.8% of his or her total monthly expenditure on food and transport respectively.
According to the Key Household Income Trends for last year, each member of the bottom 10% of households earned an average of $410 per month excluding employer’s CPF contributions. This works out, per person, to about $3.54 per day on food and $1.20 per day on transport. Rounded up this adds up to $5 a day for food and transport.
How difficult is it to survive on just $5 a day for food and transport?
105,000 families in Singapore earn on average $1,500 or less per month and have to do just that.
How does it feel to be spending only $5 a day for food and transport?
Whatever you think or feel, find out for yourself by taking the $5 a day challenge, a movement to raise awareness of poverty in Singapore.
For me, I will definitely need to rely on the free early morning MRT ride or simply work from home to have enough money left over for food. What about you? How will you spend your money?