Perks for parents to move to new towns 'too costly'

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has appeared to rule out giving cash incentives to encourage parents in mature estates to join their children in new towns.

He said yesterday he had asked participants at his ministry's recently concluded Housing Conversations how big a carrot it would take for them to move. "The figure is something I can't afford. It's six digits," he said, to the general surprise of MPs.

In July, Mr Khaw seemed to entertain the idea of financial incentives. He told participants that if parents were prepared to leave their comfortable surroundings in a mature estate, "we should try to facilitate and perhaps even reward them for moving out because that opens up opportunities for children of parents in mature estates who want to stay on."

Yesterday, he appeared to have changed tack when asked about the idea by Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC). "We will try within our capabilities and financial limits, but if some parents can change their attitude and be prepared to try out the new towns, they may discover better new towns - maybe in Yishun," Mr Khaw said.

Still, there are other options, even for those in mature estates.

"Helping extended families live together or close by for mutual care and support has been a longstanding priority for this Government," he said, pointing to the Married Child Priority Scheme, which gives applicants living with or near their parents more chances at the ballot box, and the multi-generatonal 3Gen flats.

Another is the possibility of more new flats in older towns.

He told Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC): "Within the next 12 months ... there are several Build-to-Order launch possibilities in several mature estates. Whether it will be in the member's ward, I do not know."

The Selective En bloc Redeve- lopment Scheme (Sers) and resale flats are also options for those hoping to move into mature towns to be near their parents. Sers involves redeveloping old estates. Affected owners get compensation and rehousing benefits. These old estates are often low-rise and the new blocks will have more units than before.

But people in older estates may not be keen to move out. Mr Khaw said: "I know many parents are very reluctant because ... they are used to the hawker or a particular wet market stallholder and they find it very difficult to move to a new place. But we will try."

This article was first published on Sep 10, 2014.
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