~by: Leong Sze Hian~
I refer to the article “Donations to CDCs up 5% to S$10.9m” (Today, Feb 28).
The joint press release by the Community Development Councils (CDCs) states that “A total of $10.9 million was attracted in community and corporate donations in 2011, up from $10.4 million in 2010. In particular, the proportion of donations from corporate companies had increased, forming one-third of the overall donations received in 2011 as compared to one-quarter in 2010”.
Compete with VWOs for donations?
Whilst it is a noble intention and objective to “To encourage the more able to help the less able in the community”, I think we should consider the implications of the CDCs asking for more donations which may be in competition with the private and volunteer sectors, like the Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs).
In a sense, for example, every donation dollar given to the CDCs from a company's charity budget, may mean a dollar less for VWOs.
What are Budget surpluses for?
When GST was raised in 2007, the primary reason given was to help the poor. With a Budget surplus of $2.3 billion last year, and a net Budget surplus of $8.2 billion over the last six years, why do the CDCs have to embark on its almost never-ending quest for more donations? The $10.9 million it raised is a pittance, relative to our Budget surpluses mentioned above.
Less job placements?
As to “In 2011, the CDCs had successfully placed 10,775 job seekers into employment, a 26% decrease from 2010. With the improved economic conditions, it has been easier for those who have the necessary skills and right mindset to secure employment or better jobs on their own”, what does this mean? – That the decrease in the job placement success rate was due to improved economic conditions which made it easier for job seekers to find jobs on their own?
But, “On training and employment, the CDCs said they provided employment and training assistance to about 27,300 residents – a 13 percent increase from 2010”. So, if economic conditions had improved such that job seekers could find jobs on their own, then why did the numbers given job assistance increase by 13 per cent? – Kind of self-contradictory, don't you think?
It's kind of like saying in the same breath that the economy was good, but then more people sought and were helped?
Actually, the CDCs could simply have given us the statistics as to how many of those who sought job assistance were placed by the CDCs, and how many found jobs on their own, instead of just citing the reason of easier to find jobs on their own as the cause of the CDCs' decline in the placement rate?
With regard to “In 2011, the CDCs received some 69,600 applications for assistance under the national schemes, a 14% increase over 60,900 applications in 2010. The increase is attributed to more applications under the ComCare GROW and Self-Reliance pillars”, since the economic conditions had improved, why are more applying for assistance?
One of the reasons given was that “The Self-Reliance applications increased by 14%, from 33,526 in 2010 to 38,316 in 2011. Between June and December 2011, the Self-Reliance applications increased by 25%, compared to the same period in 2010. This is likely due to the increased awareness of assistance rendered by CDCs through various outreach efforts and publicity”.
The ComCare Self-Reliance consists of the following two programmes:-
Work Support Programme
This programme supports families who require assistance to tide over a difficult period. This scheme is targeted at families whose members are prepared to do their best to help themselves.
ComCare Transitions assists those who are temporarily unable to work due to old age, illness, disability or extenuating circumstances and have little or no family support.
I find it rather strange that often, whenever more people apply for help, one of the reasons given is invariably that it was due to increased awareness.
So, is it logical to say that after some six years of having the ComCare programme, “ families who require assistance to tide over a difficult period” and “those who are temporarily unable to work due to old age, illness, disability or extenuating circumstances and have little or no family support”, are still not aware – such that applications jumped again due to more awareness?
Could it simply be that more applied because more people are in financial stress?
Are the 69,600 new applications for the year that do not include existing needy families that were already getting assistance?
If so, how many needy families are there in total?
How many helped by how much?
What is perhaps conspicuously missing in the subject press release, is how many of the increased 69,600 assistance applications were successful, and how much was disbursed to them?