Ms Hazel Poa asked the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the service standard for the payout of SGUnited funding support to employers; and (b) what proportion of payments are within this timeframe.
Mrs Josephine Teo: Workforce Singapore (WSG) works closely with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), our programme partner for the SGUnited Traineeships (SGUT) and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways (SGUP) programmes, to administer these programmes. SBF’s role includes advising host organisations that are keen to offer traineeships and attachments, monitoring the progress of these programmes, as well as processing applications and claims.
Since the roll-out of SGUT and SGUP last year, we have seen strong interest from organisations to take in trainees. As of 1 March 2021, there have been more than 8,600 trainees hosted by over 2,400 organisations. Each of the host organisations submit monthly claims for co-funding of the training allowances.
Correspondingly, SBF has received a high volume of claims. Host organisations need to submit relevant supporting documents, including proof of payment to the trainees, and progress reports signed off by the trainees and host organisations. To ensure proper governance of public monies, SBF must check the documents for completeness and accuracy before disbursing the payout to the host organisations.
As of 1 April 2021, SBF has received around 27,000 claims, of which 60% has been processed and the payouts disbursed to the host organisations. About 20% are pending clarifications from the host organisations due to incomplete or incorrect information. The remaining 20% are still being processed by SBF, and includes more recent claims received in March and April 2021.
To speed up processing of claims, SBF has expanded its resources. It now has a dedicated team of more than 40 staff for the administration of these programmes, of which about one-third support claims processing. SBF will continue to ramp up hiring as necessary. In addition, SBF launched a new claims portal in January this year, which makes it easier for host organisations to submit and track their claims. For pending claims submitted with complete documentation in March 2021 or earlier, SBF is working towards disbursing the payouts before the end of April 2021.
SBF has acknowledged the concerns of host organisations that have paid out the allowances to trainees but have yet to receive reimbursement. Going forward, it aims to process claims and disburse the payouts within four weeks if all supporting documentation is in order.