This month, in the same week that the Department of Statistics revealed that households in the bottom 10 per cent were the group hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with their monthly total earnings from work falling by 6.1 per cent, Beyond Social Services published its “Mind the chasm” report (https://beyondresearch.sg/mind-the-chasm-covid-19-deepening-inequalities-in-singapore/). Beyond documented deep decreases to household incomes from work among low-income families. Among the applicants to Beyond’s COVID-19 Family Assistance Fund, they found that as a result of the pandemic:
- Median household income from work dropped by 69 per cent;
- Median per capita income dropped by 74 per cent; and
- 35 per cent of the applicants had their household incomes drop to nothing.
With the research team, we discuss how the report informs Singapore’s discourse on poverty and inequality, the plight of low-income families experiencing insecurities across multiple intersecting dimensions, as well as their three policy recommendations and proposed policy directions. Dr. Stephanie Chok is lead author and an independent researcher, and community worker Suraendher Kumarr provided research assistance to the report.
Resources referenced in the episode:
- The DBS report, “Same storm, different boat: Impact of COVID-19 on financial wellness in Singapore”
- Lien Centre for Social Innovation’s study on food insecurity
- My review of Singapore’s first nationwide street count on homelessness
My conversation with Dr. Chok and Kumarr is part of our joint 2021 focus on researchers as well as on civil society groups, efforts, and issues in Singapore (https://socialservice.sg/podcast/). The feature photo is by Ng Shi Wen.