Aid recipients must not treat charity as a right

Aid recipients must not treat charity as a right

Like the businessman quoted in last Sunday's article ("Welfare must not undermine value of hard work"), I feel there are some among Singapore's poor who have no qualms about accepting handouts, yet are reluctant to fulfil their obligations to be self-reliant.

The only way to help them is to give them a reality check. They should take whatever jobs come their way, or risk losing the aid they have been receiving.

Those who truly deserve help - and it's obvious that some do - should be given all the necessary assistance.

For the able-bodied, however, financial help should be only a stop-gap measure while they work with social workers to get themselves back on their own two feet.

Public assistance must focus more on helping these families break the poverty cycle, as well as plug any gaps that may inadver-tently attach them to an "IV drip of dependence".

One way is to draw up a scheme - perhaps between the relevant authorities and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund - to provide after-school care at dedicated schools and community centres to children from low-income families, as the central plank of public assistance to them, while their parents are sent off to work and counselled on family planning and budgeting.

A dual-salary family with a household income of $3,000, for instance, is certainly better off than one that is surviving on $1,400 and generous sums of financial aid that could end up being spent unwisely.

The risks of children from such families becoming "poverty multipliers" are very high.

Role models outside of their immediate family circle are critical in helping them fulfil their families' best hopes of escaping the poverty trap in the long run.

Above all, recipients of public aid must never treat charity as an entitlement, while social workers should regard it as their moral duty to ensure that government assistance goes to those who are most in need.

A crutch mentality must be rooted out from the whole process.


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