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Recap: Expired or Expiring Singapore SME Government Grants from 2020 (Will Budget 2021 Provide New Support?)
The article was published on 27 Jan 2021 and updated on 24 Feb 2021
As Singapore’s economy continues to make encouraging steps out of the Covid-induced economic recession, it is likely that the government will continue to run a deficit in 2021. Many low-income households and affected industry sectors are still sorely in need of assistance.
However, it has been predicted that Budget 2021, set to be announced on 16 February 2021, will likely curtail broad support for everyone in the country in favour of highly targeting sectors of Singapore that require help the most.
To that end, certain grants and forms of support for SMEs introduced by the government last year may be allowed to expire, or perhaps already have been.
The Work-Life Grant (WLG) was an existing scheme by Workforce Singapore and the Ministry of Manpower, to promote work-life harmony in the workplace by offering incentives for Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) or job-sharing. This funding support aimed to help companies implement and sustain FWAs and job-sharing arrangements for all Singaporean and Permanent Residents employees.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government made enhancements to the Work-Life Grant to make it faster and easier for companies to receive funding support for such arrangements.
The FWA incentive consisted of S$2,000 for every local worker on FWAs, up to S$70,000 over two years. Meanwhile, the funding amount for Job Sharing incentive was up to S$35,000 per company over 2 years, for S$3,500 per worker. As such, a company could receive up to S$105,000 of funding support under the WLG over a period of two years.
To qualify for this grant, the employees who were to be considered under the incentives must have had at least a 12-month employment contract with the company and commanded a gross monthly salary of at least S$3,600.
The deadline for the enhanced WLG (COVID-19) was 30 June 2020, whereupon companies wishing to tap on the grant needed to show that FWAs was in regular usage for at least six months prior to their application, instead of just one month.
The regular Work-Life Grant itself also expired on 18 August 2020.
Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) – Remote Working Solutions (Laptop)
The Productivity Solutions Grant was set up to help businesses to implement business continuity measures, including online collaboration tools and virtual meeting tools to support remote working.
It covers sector-specific solutions including the retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction and landscaping industries. Other than sector-specific solutions, PSG also supports adoption of solutions that cut across industries, such as in areas of customer management, data analytics, financial management and inventory tracking.
The PSG itself does not appear to have an expiry date just yet. Maximum level of funding support under this grant is at 80 per cent until 30 September 2021 and will revert back to 70 per cent thereafter.
However, certain schemes under this grant have lapsed. This includes the Laptop-Bundled Remote Working Solutions, which provided eligible companies with funding for a business laptop (up to a maximum of three) as well as online collaboration software and virtual meeting tools.
This was a very popular grant, especially when it was finally announced that the grant would be allowed to cover MacBooks.
Unfortunately, this scheme ended on 31 December 2020.
E-Commerce Booster Package
For brick-and-mortar retailers, Enterprise Singapore’s E-commerce Booster Package aimed to help retail businesses diversify and find new ways to reach customers. To that end, it provided funding to defray up to 90 per cent of costs for six months in setting up and maintaining an online presence on certain major e-commerce platforms. There was also previously a digital marketing programme under this package that could be utilised to raise proficiency in implementing effective digital campaigns and increase brand awareness and sales conversions across multiple digital channels.
The latter expired on 30 September while the entire scheme ceased on 31 December 2020.
Senior Worker Support Package
As part of an effort to promote employment and retention for senior Singaporean workers, a S$1.3 billion Senior Worker Support Package was announced in Budget 2020. This was expected to run until 2022.
Several schemes are still ongoing as planned. This includes the Senior Employment Credit, which allows employers that hire senior Singaporean workers aged 55 and above to receive wage subsidies in tiers according to the workers’ ages. Senior workers earning up to S$4,000 will be applicable for the wage offset, with the maximum wage offset targeted at senior workers earning S$3,000.
The Central Provident Fund (CPF) transition offset scheme is also expected to still be in force, as it aims to provide a one-year offset of 0.25 to 0.5 per cent of wages for every Singaporean and Permanent Resident worker between the ages of 55 and 70 in 2022. The offset will be calculated based on employees’ incomes paid up to the CPF salary ceiling of S$6,000 per month in 2022.
However, the package also included the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant and Part-Time Re-Employment Grant.
The former was meant to support companies that were willing and able to raise both their retirement age and re-employment age ahead of the national schedule.
The current statutory retirement age is 62 while re-employment age is 67. The first scheduled increase will take effect from 1st July 2022, when the respective ages will rise to 63 and 68, and gradually increase to 65 and 70 respectively by 2030.
Companies that raise the respective ages by 3 or more years above the prevailing statutory ages were meant to receive S$5,000 per senior worker aged 60 and older from the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant, capped at 50 workers.
Meanwhile, the Part-Time Re-Employment Grant was introduced to support companies that commit to restructure their work structures and processes to provide part time re-employment opportunities to senior workers who have requested for it.
S$2,500 would have been disbursed for every Singaporean/PR employee 60 years and above (up to S$125,000) that a company provided part-time re-employment opportunities to.
It was ceased early this year (2021) due to over-subscription for this scheme but applications have now been resumed again following Budget 2021 announcement. Thus we encourage SMEs that have senior worker headcount to apply soonest.
SGUnited Traineeships Programme
Amid a weakening job market due to the coronavirus, the government set aside S$100 million in 2020 to fund a traineeship scheme to help new graduates find employment. Under this programme, recent graduates of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics, universities and other institutions could enter into a traineeship (lasting up to 12 months) and receive a monthly training allowance. The government would fund 80 per cent of the allowance and the remainder would be covered by the trainee’s host company. As announced during Budget 2021 on 16 February 2021, part of the Government’s approach towards combating the Covid-19 pandemic is to continue supporting businesses and workers. To that effect, the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package will be extended to 31 March 2022, among other measures. This include the SGUnited Mid-Careers Pathways Programme, which we have covered previously, and also the SGUnited Skills Programme. Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) was launched in Budget 2020 to provide wage support for employers to help them retain their local employees (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) by relieving their cash flow. JSS was then further enhanced in the Resilience and Solidarity Budgets when the Covid-19 situation worsened and many businesses and jobs were faced with extreme challenges that threatened their survival. Under the JSS, the Government co-funds between 25% to 75% of the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each local employee in a 10-month period (up to Aug 2020) and 10% to 50% of the same in the subsequent 7-month period (Sep 2020 to Mar 2021). Employers will receive five main JSS payouts in April 2020, July 2020, October 2020, March 2021, and June 2021. Employers do not need to apply for the JSS. IRAS will notify eligible employers by post of the tier of support and the amount of JSS payout payable to them. But as can be seen by the disbursement dates, even should your business be eligible, the scheme itself will run out by June 2021.
Updated: 19th Feb 2021: Extension of JSS for businesses in Tier 1 and 2 sectors.
Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI)
The Job Growth Incentive (JGI) aims to further promote local hires and is eligible for employers who increase their overall local workforce between September 2020 and February 2021.
JGI alleviates some costs by providing salary support funding for SMEs that are thinking of hiring as the economy gradually picks up. SMEs that increase their local workforce between the stated timeline will receive one year of salary support from the Government for each new local hire. There must be an increase in overall local workforce size, and increase in local workforce size earning S$1,400 or more per month, compared to August 2020 local workforce.
The government will co-fund up to 50% of the first S$5,000 of gross monthly wages for all new local hires aged 40 and above. For those below age 40, there will be a co-fund of 25% of the first S$5,000 of gross monthly wages.
The first JGI payout will commence in March 2021, computed on a monthly basis based on employer’s mandatory CPF contributions. Eligible companies will be automatically included, and notified by IRAS by post. SMEs will also receive JGI payout on top of the existing JSS payout.
Following 2021 Budget announcement: Extension Of Job Growth Incentive is as follow:
Employers that increase their overall local workforce between September 2020 and September 2021 (inclusive) will receive Government support. The qualifying window for new local hires will be:
Phase 1 of the JGI: September 2020 to February 2021
Phase 2 of the JGI: March 2021 to September 2021
P-Max is a Place-and-Train Programme by Workforce Singapore (WSG) to help SMEs to better recruit, train, manage and retain their newly hired Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs).
By hiring a Singaporean or Permanent Resident Employee who falls under the PMET category with a monthly salary of at least S$2,500, a company is eligible to sign up for the P-MAX programme and receive a one-time Assistance Salary Government Grant of S$5,000. If your newly-hired PMET is a Singaporean aged 50 years and above, you will be eligible for a S$10,000 assistance grant.
In order to qualify, the company must send said employee to attend a P-MAX workshop which consists of a 2-day training curriculum, whereby a supervisor will attend the first day together with the PMET, and the PMET is required to attend both days. Workshops are currently conducted virtually, with available dates on 1 and 3 February 2021. The workshop is 90% subsidised, and while course fees vary depending on the administrator of the programme, it is not expected to exceed S$200.
The grant will be disbursed when your company successfully retains the PMET for at least six months after attending the P-Max workshop.
The P-MAX Grant will be expiring soon in April 2021 or earlier based on a first come first served basis for any workshop registrations. Read also: Uncertain Times Still Ahead for 2021 – SME Loans Available Under Enterprise Singapore
Read also: SINGAPORE BUDGET 2021: What SMEs Need To Know
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