People with disabilities a focus for 2017 Budget: Indranee Rajah

Singaporeans with disabilities can expect a helping hand from this year's Budget, along with the elderly and young families.

This was told by Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law, during a visit to the Enabling Village - a community space where people with disabilities can shop, eat, access services and attend training sessions.

When asked if the Budget will help those with disabilities in education, integration or employment, Ms Indranee said: " I can't give away much on that but the message really is that if you're disabled, it doesn't mean that you're not able to contribute and be a fully-functioning part of society.

"So, training may be one part, helping them to integrate is another part but getting people to participate - employers, people who can take them on, give employment - is important as well."

People with disabilities make up just 0.55 per cent of the resident labour force in Singapore. But 3.4 per cent of residents aged 18-49 here have a disability.

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Ms Indranee said there may be "a large number who may not be (working) but could potentially be, and that's the reason why you have a place like the Enabling Village to be able to help them make that transition".

"The ultimate goal and aim is that anybody who is disabled, but who would be able to participate productively in some form or other, should be able to have the opportunity to do so," she said.

For that to happen, society needs to have the "right mindset" and there must be a partnership between the Government, the beneficiaries and employers, she said.

"For the disabled person, he or she will need to put in effort to train, to learn. You want them to be employed, so the employers have to put in effort, too, to understand that when you are taking on somebody who's disabled, they may have certain needs but they are also part of our community.

"They are a part of our society and it's possible to configure jobs to suit them, it is possible to configure a workplace to suit them," she said.

In 2015, $4 million was allocated to providing transport for people with disabilities and in 2014, $56 million were given to help 50,000 children with special needs and people with disabilities for early intervention and transport subsidies.

This article was first published on Feb 8, 2017.
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