The Silver Jubilee Fund (SJF) dates back to 1935. The funds were raised partly by subscription and partly by grants from the colonial government and Municipal Commissioners, as a permanent memorial of the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty King George V for the relief of distress from permanent or semi-permanent destitution in Singapore. Check out the amounts contributed by the public, the Municipality, and the government .
The Silver Jubilee Fund (Singapore) Ordinance 1936 governed the administration of the Fund. A Board of Trustees was responsible for all investments and transactions involving the capital. A Committee of Management (COM) had representatives from various races and religions to decide on applications for assistance. The Salvation Army was appointed the executive of the Fund, operating from government premises at New Bridge Road. A note written by Mr McNeice (Secretary of Social Welfare) showed that by April 1947, the Social Welfare Department was administering the SJF .
The Public Assistance Board (PAB) was established on 1 November 1951 to advise on the administration of public assistance in the colony.
The members of the PAB, chaired by the Secretary for Social Welfare, were appointed for a period of three years.
The Social Welfare Department (SWD) was set up in June 1946 to take over certain sections of work started by the British Military Administration. The two main sections :
a) The Refugees and Displaced Persons’ Section and
b) The Public Assistance Section.
Besides giving advice and running enquiry services, the SWD provided emergency relief in cash and kind to help those in distress arising from the Japanese Occupation.
By 1951, the Public Assistance Section administered financial and other types of assistance to applicants who were eligible for relief after investigations.
Soon after the liberation of Singapore in 1945, SWD devised a rough and ready system of granting a small allowance immediately to anyone in apparent need. A male or female, 16 years and older received $5 and $4 respectively, and a child below 16, $2 a month. The maximum allowance granted per family was $20 a month .
In 1950 an interim Public Assistance Scheme was set up which enhanced the allowance rate, set qualification criteria, and introduced a means test and maximum rate. It raised the maximum allowance per family to $40 a month. At that time, those who received full benefits under the scheme were the aged, the permanently disabled, and widows with dependent children. Find out more about the Scheme on pages 81 and 82 .
In 1952, persons eligible for financial assistance included the aged and the permanently disabled, widows with dependent children, the temporarily disabled and unemployed, destitute residents of SWD Homes and chronically ill patients who required long-term hospitalisation. A residency qualification had to be met, for example, 20 years for the aged, 10 years for the permanently disabled and widows, for the payout of $15 per month. Check out the details on the eligibility criteria and the rates paid during this time (1951/1952) .
The Public Assistance Board was of the unanimous opinion that the rates then were inadequate and recommended a revised scale of public assistance which the Governor approved in October 1952, for implementation with effect from 1 January 1953 .
By 1967, Public Assistance recipients could collect their allowance from 42 payment centres located throughout Singapore. Besides these, mobile teams from SWD delivered payments to those unable to get to these centres, such as patients in hospitals and the homebound.
Find out about the eligibility criteria, payment rates , etc as well as those pertaining to the Tuberculosis Treatment Allowance Scheme, Housing Subsidy for Malay families, and other forms of financial assistance administered on behalf of charity funds.
Grants and interest-free loans were given to enable Public Assistance recipients as well as persons in difficult financial circumstances to become self-supporting. For example, helping them to start small businesses like running food stalls, or to buy equipment like hair cutting tools. These special grants and loans were paid from charitable trust funds administered by SWD, namely the Silver Jubilee Fund and the Charity Box Fund. Grants were one-off whereas loans were interest-free, to be repaid monthly, over 24 months. The interest-free loan scheme became known as the Self Employment Assistance Scheme in January 1977.
In this file are stories on how SWD helped put some families back on their feet.
In 1974, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple (KITHCT) donated $10,000 for use at the “discretion of the Chairman of Silver Jubilee Fund Committee of Management (SJFCOM) for relief purposes over and above the provisions available to the SJFCOM.” It made further donations between 1975 to 1979 enabling the SJFCOM to provide financial help in cases outside its purview such as payments to repair an old man’s dilapidated attap house; purchase of utensils and supplies to help recipients set up food and drink stalls; cash to tide a family through a period when the father stopped work due to sudden illness .
Besides the donations for use of the SJFCOM, the KITHCT donated money for the SWD’s Homes Fund. This was used to finance various training and rehabilitative programmes, recreational activities and additional amenities for boys, girls, old and destitute persons in the SWD Homes .
The Cheang Hong Lim Burial Ground Charity Fund provided burial expenses for poor and destitute Chinese who died in Singapore and those in welfare homes and homes for the aged.
The Lee Foundation (established in 1952 by the late Dato Lee Kong Chian, a prominent philanthropist in Singapore) donated funds for the SWD to make emergency relief payment to victims of civil calamities such as flood and fire, as well as miscellaneous relief payment to hardship cases. It helped with payment of examination fees for children whose parents were receiving Public Assistance allowance.