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SkillsFuture Credit claims to be paid to training providers to curb abuse

SkillsFuture Credit claims to be paid to training providers to curb abuse
Members of public visiting and asking questions of the SkilllsFuture Credit and courses and on the first day of the 3-days roadshow of SkilllsFuture Marketplace at One Raffles Place Atrium in February last year. TODAY file photo.

SkillsFuture Credit claims to be paid to training providers to curb abuse

SINGAPORE — From May 19, all payments for SkillsFuture Credit claims will be paid out directly to training providers instead of to individuals, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) announced on Wednesday (April 26), as it revised the claims processes to stamp out abuses.

Individuals will continue to submit the SkillsFuture Credit claims, while training providers will collect net fees from individuals, after offsetting the credits that will be used. 

The current system, which allows an individual or training provider to receive the claims, has resulted in individual users abusing the system. Channelling payments through training providers instead of paying out directly to individuals will significantly reduce the risk of fraudulent claims, SSG said. 

Rolled out last year, the scheme gives Singaporeans aged 25 and older S$500 in credits to pay for training courses.

It was reported earlier that SSG uncovered more than 4,400 individuals submitting false claims, as of January. They had encashed their SkillsFuture Credit without attending any courses.

A Process Review Committee, comprising SSG board members, was formed to review the policies and procedures relating to training grants. 

They proposed the change to the claims process, which should remain “simple and easy” so as not to inconvenience learners.

With the change, SSG said it would still continue to make an exception for selected overseas Massive Open Online Courses, where SkillsFuture Credit payments to these training providers are not available. 

Individuals who sign up for such programmes, which may include Web design or computer-coding courses, will be required to provide supporting payment documents as part of the claims submission process. 

Previously, SSG noted that about 6 per cent of Singaporeans used SkillsFuture Credit for such courses that they can access online at their own convenience and pace.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, SSG said that the course directory and claims process were designed to be “simple, inclusive and user-friendly” to encourage and empower eligible Singaporeans to undergo skills training. 

“It is regrettable that some individuals have abused the system and submitted false claims,” its spokesperson said.

The changes will not affect the agency’s goal because users are still able to make the claims.

In January, SSG said that more than 126,000 Singaporeans had used their SkillsFuture Credit by the end of 2016. It noted that 34 per cent of applicants had used the scheme more than once, and that use of the credits was, on average, highest among Singaporeans aged 25 to 29, at almost S$400 per person.

The number of courses linked to SkillsFuture Credit have gone up to more than 18,000, and they are offered by more than 700 public and private training providers.