Twice-divorced and estranged from her one living sibling and two children, Ms Goh Quee Eng, 58, also has depression and cannot work.
She has been surviving on long- term financial assistance from the Government of $450 a month since 2011 after her second marriage dissolved.
To make ends meet, she eats only two meals a day and keeps some bread for when she gets hungry.
Ms Goh told The Straits Times in Mandarin: “I am barely scraping by. I don’t have any extra money to save for emergencies.”
But a Budget announcement yesterday means Ms Goh can soon have three meals a day.
Singaporeans such as Ms Goh will get a raise in the monthly cash allowance for Public Assistance beneficiaries.
Public Assistance is for Singaporeans who are permanently unable to work, and lack income and family support. It has a cash component and also covers hygiene essentials and medical treatment.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said: “For example, a two-person household, where both are on public assistance, will now receive an additional $80 a month, bringing the amount of cash assistance per month to $870.”
More details will be announced by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Currently, one-person households receive $450 a month, two-persons get $790, three-persons get $990 and four-persons get $1,180.
In 2014, some 4,134 people benefited from Public Assistance, also known as ComCare Long Term Assistance.
Ms Goh, who lives in a rental flat in Woodlands with two friends, is heartened by the announcement.
“The extra allowance will help me ease my financial burdens. I will be able to buy food without worrying about whether I have enough money for the coming weeks,” she said.
She used to work as a cleaner before she was diagnosed with depression, and her second husband’s income of $1,000 as a driver also helped. But now that she only has the $450 to depend on, Ms Goh worries about not having savings for emergencies.
“With the extra allowance, I can have three meals a day instead of merging breakfast and lunch into one meal,” she said. “Maybe I can even save some money.”
This article was first published on March 25, 2016.
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