Financial assistance: Need family members’ income or not?

Photo: Narin BI/CC BY 2.0Photo: Narin BI/CC BY 2.0

Is the income of family members needed when applying for financial assistance?

I refer to the Service Delivery and Coordination Division, Social Policy and Services Group, Ministry of Social and Family Development’s reply “Social service agencies seek only relevant information to offer help” (Straits Times Forum, Apr 23) to Ms Tang Siew Ngoh’s letter (Be sensitive when helping less fortunate; April 13).

It states “When a family or individual approaches the social service offices for help, we request only information that is necessary to enable us to assess the type and amount of assistance needed.

This would include information on the applicant’s daily living expenses, employment status and income situation, which allows us to tailor financial assistance so that the applicant can cover his basic living needs.

Where possible, and with the applicant’s consent, we obtain relevant information directly from government agencies we have system interfaces with, so as to reduce the number of documents that the applicant needs to provide.”

There is no mention of whether information on the income of family members is needed when applying for financial assistance.

In my volunteer work doing financial counselling for about 15 years, I have come across many cases whereby they said that the income of their immediate family members – even those who were not staying in the same house – were required.

Such information I was told may not be easily available in some situations.

So, do we or do we not now ask for the immediate family members’ income?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.