U Care Fund sets aside $3 million for U Stretch vouchers to help 30,000 low-income union members in 2012
06 May 2012
The NTUC U Care Fund will be rolling out its U Stretch Vouchers Programme to reach out to help 30,000 low-income union members. The U Stretch vouchers, amounting to $3 million this year, are discount vouchers that would help low-income union members stretch their dollars on daily basic necessities. To make its U Care assistance programmes more accessible to union members, the Labour Movement has reviewed the income eligibility criteria and implemented a new online application system for these assistance programmes.
Further Review to Income Eligibility Criteria
Last year, after taking into consideration the rising cost of living, the eligibility criteria for the application of U Care assistance programmes was revised to benefit more members. This year, with the continued uncertain economy outlook, the Labour Movement wants to Do More by easing further on the income criteria for these assistance programmes.
In line with the Department of Statistics’ findings on Key Household Income Trends 2011 released earlier this year, the Labour Movement has benchmarked and revised its U Care assistance programmes’ income ceiling to match the lowest 20th percentile of gross household and per capita income. This revision sees a rise in gross household income limit to $2,800 from $2,200 and per capita income limit to $725 from $600.
Revised Eligibility Criteria
Total Monthly Gross Household Income of $2,800 and below; OR Per capita income of $725 and below*
i. At least 6 months of continuous union membership at point of application.
*a monthly gross personal income of $1400 will apply for those without dependents in Singapore.
The recently appointed National Trades Union Congress’s (NTUC) Care and Share Director, Mr Zainal Bin Sapari said, “Our economic outlook is still uncertain given the current global economic climate. Coupled with pressures of inflation and rising cost of living, timely reviews have to be made so that we continue to remain relevant to those who need our assistance. With the latest change in our income eligibility criteria, we hope to reach out to more low-income members, and help lessen their burden, especially on their daily essentials.”
Mr Lai See Yong, 45 years old, who earns $2700 monthly and is the sole-breadwinner of a family of four, is now eligible for the U Care assistance programmes under the newly revised income criteria. “With the increase in cost of living, the days get tougher as there is only my income to sustain the expenditures of a whole family. I am really grateful that I can now apply for the assistance programmes under U Care Fund, as I know they will be helpful in defraying some of my daily living expenses,” Mr Lai said.
Successful U Stretch applicants will each receive a booklet of 40 vouchers worth $100 in total value, for use at four of NTUC Social Enterprises. Each voucher provides the union members a $2.50 discount off every $5 purchase of groceries at the NTUC FairPrice supermarkets; medication or health-related items at NTUC Unity pharmacies and NTUC Unity Denticare clinics; meals at NTUC Foodfare food courts; and day care services at NTUC Eldercare centres. These U Stretch vouchers will be valid for seven months - from 1 August 2012 till 28 February 2013. Please refer to Annex A for more details on the U Stretch vouchers.
Application of U Care Assistance Programmes through New Online System
The application for the U Stretch vouchers opens from 7 May till 10 June 2012. To provide an alternative, convenient and more accessible way of submitting an application, a new U Care Online Application System has been launched. Union members can now apply online through www.ntuc.org.sg/ucare/apply and upload their supporting documents. An online demo and factsheet are also provided to help applicants with the online process.
The original application procedure of using the paper form is still available for union members. Ordinary Branch union members can apply directly with the respective unions they belong to. For General Branch union members, they can download the application form from www.ntuc.org.sg/ucare or obtain the application form from the NTUC Member Services Centre located at NTUC Centre, 1 Marina Boulevard, #B1-01, One Marina Boulevard S(018989). For further enquiries, please call the NTUC Hotline at 6213 8008.
U Care Programmes
The U Care Fund would like to thank our past supporters including NTUC affiliated unions and associations, tripartite partners, corporate donors, Singapore Labour Foundation (SLF), NTUC FairPrice Foundation, NTUC Income and NTUC Choice Homes for their generous contributions which go towards supporting the U Stretch Vouchers Programme.
This year, the U Care Fund will be garnering donations through the annual U Care Charity Dinner and other fund-raising activities to raise funds for its various programmes. The Fund hopes for continued contribution from the various stakeholders and supporters. More information on the fund-raising activities will be shared in time to come.
Other than the U Stretch vouchers, other U Care assistance programmes for low-income union members and families include the U Care Back to School vouchers, U Care Education Co-Funding scheme and Family Recreation & Fun Carnivals. The U Care Fund will also contribute to NTUC First Campus Bright Horizons Fund and NTUC Eldercare Trust to help needy children and the elderly respectively.
 Union members must be a registered U Portal member in order to access the UCS.