lien foundation book launch
Image from Lien Centre for Social Innovation


Singapore, 20 March 2015 (Friday) – The Lien Centre for Social Innovation (LCSI) has published the first handbook covering literature on poverty, inequality and unmet social needs in Singapore. The launch took place on 17 March and featured a panel of speakers whose work is cited in the handbook.

Entitled, “A Handbook on Inequality, Poverty and Unmet Social Needs in Singapore”, the report is the first of its kind to be released in Singapore; it compiles information from a variety of sources  to present current data, analyses and debates regarding inequality and poverty in Singapore.

The handbook also provides an overview of publicly available information on existing social assistance policies and future policy options.

This publication presents the information from a neutral perspective, citing the sources of all arguments so that the reader has both a starting point to engage with these topics, and the information to pursue areas of interest further.

Dr Tan Chi Chiu, Chairman of the Lien Centre for Social Innovation, said, “There is growing public awareness and increasing government action to address the diverse needs of the diverse group of low-income Singaporeans. LCSI’s new handbook on domestic poverty, inequality and unmet social needs responds to calls from our partners and collaborators including Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), teachers, students, civil servants and community members for an accessible guide to the current context and debates.”

At a time when poverty, inequality and unmet social needs are hot topics of both global and domestic discussion, this handbook, written specifically for a Singaporean audience, is a timely contribution to the conversation. The handbook presents the framework of domestic debates and summarised information from key thinkers.

Key contributions of this handbook are an overview of existing literature on the following topics:
• Current estimates of inequality, absolute poverty and relative poverty in Singapore as well as discussions of the relevance of these indicators in the domestic context.
• Hypothesised causes of inequality and poverty in Singapore.
• The intersection between poverty and race, and poverty and gender in Singapore.
• Existing social assistance policies and programmes including CPF, Workfare, Public Assistance, and housing provided through the HDB.
• Suggested avenues for reform from various academic sources.

The authors of the handbook conclude that efforts to address poverty, inequality and unmet social needs in Singapore would be greatly enhanced by:
(a) the development of locally relevant and nuanced monetary and non-monetary measures of poverty that are made publicly available; and
(b) more sharing of disaggregated data from government studies and surveys.

These steps would enable academics, VWOs and the public at large become more aware of the issues related to poverty and inequality in Singapore, and be placed in a better position to weigh in on debates and solutions.

Mr Jonathan Chang, Centre Director of Lien Centre for Social Innovation, remarked, “This ground-breaking publication has been more than three years in the making, as we wanted to be sure that we found as much relevant material and spoke to as many people as we could to satisfy ourselves that we are presenting a balanced picture that represents different viewpoints.”

“Usually reports like this present one side or viewpoint. By taking the fresh approach of reviewing all the literature and policy information, the Lien Centre for Social Innovation has, I think, made possible more effective co-creation of responses whereby the community and government can work better together,” concluded Mr Tim Oei, Board Member of Lien Centre for Social Innovation, and Chief Executive Officer of AWWA.

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