Singapore Budget 2018: More grants for singles to live with or near parents

Singles will now get a grant of $10,000 if they buy a Housing Board (HDB) resale flat near their parents – a move that analysts described as being “pro-family”.

The announcement yesterday was among a series of changes to expand grants for home buyers who want to live with or near their parents, so as to encourage more caregiving support within families.

Applicants will also get more options to choose a resale unit because of a change in the definition of what constitutes a flat that is “near” their loved ones.

The previous definition of being in the same town or within 2km has been revised to simply being within 4km. This opens up a larger pool of flats they can choose from.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the enhancements to the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG), which was rolled out in August 2015, and to the 4km definition will take immediate effect.

Singles could previously get a grant only if they bought a flat to live with their parents.

With yesterday’s announcement, two things changed for this group: They will now get a grant of $15,000 – up from $10,000 – if they buy to live with their parents; and receive a $10,000 grant if they buy a flat to be near their parents.

Another change to the grant amount affects families buying a flat to live with their parents or their married children. This group will get $30,000 – an increase from $20,000. There is no change for families who buy a resale flat to live near their parents. The grant will continue to be $20,000.

Some 12,000 households made use of the PHG as of the end of last year. They represented about a quarter of the 50,000 resale transactions registered between Aug 24, 2015 and Dec 31 last year, the HDB said last week.

Of these, families made up 93 per cent of applicants, with the rest being singles. About $211 million in PHG has been disbursed to 11,000 families so far. Also, 16 per cent of those who have been given the grant live in the same block or flat as their parents or married children.

The enhancements announced yesterday will cost the Government another $80 million per year.

Together with the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Housing Grant, which was enhanced last year, and the Additional CPF Housing Grant, first-time applicants can now get up to $120,000 in housing grants when buying a resale flat to live with their parents – a 50 per cent increase compared with three years ago.

The new measures could help ease the strong demand for Build-To-Order flats by singles.

Three-room flats, in particular, are expected to be in strong demand.

National University of Singapore urban sociologist Ho Kong Chong said extending the PHG to singles was a “logical development of the Government’s pro-family policy”.

It can help older single children be near their parents, but give them space to develop friendships and, perhaps, even romantic relationships, he added.

Marketing manager Jeffrey Ler, 36, who is single, said the grant is a “good gesture”, especially since he has been house-hunting for a four-room flat for the last six months.

He wants to have his own home, which he considers “a form of investment”, and would like to live near his 68-year-old mother.

But he said he might not get to use the $10,000 grant as it is hard to afford a flat in a mature estate like Ang Mo Kio, where his mother lives, even with the 4km definition.

“The flats in mature estates tend to be pricier and will be a heavier burden on singles.”

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 20 February 2018