The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard, especially those in the aviation, hospitality, and F&B sectors.
While there is no doubt that these businesses are among some of the hardest-hit sectors, these businesses are not the only groups that are badly impacted. Self-employed persons such as freelancers, private-hire drivers, and taxi drivers are, too, amongst those who are severely affected by the pandemic.
To help Singaporeans, especially those whose income has been badly affected by COVID-19, various support schemes have been rolled out by the Government last year.
Among the schemes are the Temporary Relief Fund, the COVID-19 Support Grant, and the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs), from which individuals can receive a total of $9,000 in three tranches last May, July, and October.
Hanging on to an invisible line that anchors to nowhere
Just as we thought Singapore is finally on its road to recovery, on 14 May 2021, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) announced additional measures and restrictions under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) amid rising COVID-19 community cases.
This has become yet another hit to many workers’ sources of income.
Again, an additional 27 million support grants for the private-hire car and taxi drivers were rolled out, to help support them amidst a huge fall in ‘ridership’.
The Jobs Support Scheme was then extended to more businesses including retail, sports, and entertainment, and rental relief was to be given to SMEs and smaller non-profit organisations.
At this point, freelancers and self-employed persons felt overlooked and forgotten. Thankfully, just a few days ago, an additional grant, the COVID-19 Recovery Grant – Temporary (CRG-T), was announced that would help the freelance and self-employed group.
This grant provides one-off financial support for lower- and middle-income workers, as well as self-employed persons who have been placed on involuntary no-pay leave (NPL) or have faced an income loss of at least 50% for one month because of the tightened safe management measures (SMMs) during this period of Heightened Alert.
Support for freelancers and self-employed persons
While the grant applications take time to process, freelancers and self-employed persons can also look at joining the U FSE (Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit), which has continuously worked on providing the support and resources that freelancers and self-employed workers need in their line of work, as well as networking opportunities.
More recently, bite-sized workshops provided for members have also included a professional portrait photoshoot – so you can look great on your company website, LinkedIn account, and the list goes on.
U FSE also organizes many events and fairs, designed to offer help and resources, as well as useful mini seminars.
The road ahead may be bumpy but hang in there because this too shall pass!