Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong assured Singaporeans that the Government is committed to safeguard their housing needs across different life stages. He was answering a parliamentary question on the various new initiatives on public housing – whether the Ministry can clarify what Housing & Development Board (HDB) flat owners at different life stages should do to ensure that they will have a home for life and also an adequate nest-egg for retirement.
In responding to the question, Mr Wong said on Sep 10 that the Government has put in place strong support for Singaporeans to meet their housing needs across different life stages.
“We are committed to helping young Singaporeans own their homes, just like previous generations of Singaporeans.,” Mr Wong said; adding: “We will ensure HDB flats are kept affordable for first-timers, by selling them at subsidised prices and providing generous housing grants. In this way, Singaporeans will continue to have a tangible stake in the nation’s progress, and their housing asset will appreciate as the economy grows.”
Mr Wong pointed out that with evolving life circumstances which comes with changing housing needs, some families may subsequently choose to move to a larger flat, or near their parents or children for mutual care and support.
“They should be in a good position to do so, as they would have enjoyed some appreciation from their first flat. We also have schemes to help them live near their parents or married children, such as the Proximity Housing Grant, which was enhanced earlier this year,” he said.
He clarified that for seniors, not only were their housing needs were taken care of by the Government, but that the Government will also give them options to unlock the value of their flats.
“For seniors, the HDB flat provides a nest-egg for retirement. The Government is committed to providing home owners with many options to unlock the value of the flats for their retirement needs. For example, seniors can rent out a spare bedroom or right-size to a smaller flat and apply for the Silver Housing Bonus. They can also sell part of their lease to HDB under the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS). We recently announced the extension of LBS to 5-room and larger flats so that more Singaporeans can benefit from the scheme.”
On Aug 20, Mr Wong announced that the Government’s Lease Buyback Scheme will be extended to all HDB flats, including 5-room and larger flats. Writing in his blog, the Minister said that the Lease Buyback Scheme “is a good scheme but it only applies to those living in 4-room or smaller HDB flats” at the moment.
Mr Wong said then: “The original thinking was that it would make more sense for those living in bigger flats to right-size. But there are seniors who prefer to age in place. Some also have grandchildren who come over to visit regularly, and would like a bigger space for the extended family.”
Adding: “After considering the matter carefully, I have decided to extend the LBS to all HDB flats, including 5-room and larger flats. This will enable many more Singaporeans to benefit from the scheme.”
Mr Wong said the Government upgrading programmes will on top of providing for Singaporeans’ housing needs, would also help to maintain the value of the HDB flats, and ensure they remain safe and liveable through their lifespan. It was recently announced that the HDB will implement the Home Improvement Programme for the next batch of flats built between 1987 and 1997; and will undertake a second round of HIP upgrading for HDB flats when they are about 60 to 70 years old.
In promising to keep the Housing & Development Board (HDB) in good condition, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally Speech that his Government would be extending Home Improvement Programme (HIP) to include flats built up to 1997. With the extension to the Home Improvement Programme, about 230,000 more HDB households will benefit from the HIP.
Introduced in 2007, the Home Improvement Programme was offered to HDB flats built up to 1986 that had not undergone the previous Main Upgrading Programme (MUP). There are about 320,000 flats eligible for the HIP under this 1986 age-band. The HIP focuses on improvements within the flat and helps flat owners address common maintenance problems related to ageing flats in a systematic and comprehensive manner. There are two main components of work under the HIP – Essential and Optional.
Mr Wong said in his parliamentary answer: “The Government has announced ambitious housing plans for the next few decades. Singaporeans can do their part too, by planning ahead and making informed housing choices. Working together, we can continue to strengthen public housing and home ownership for current and future generations of Singaporeans.”
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