With effect from 19 May 2017, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) will revise the SkillsFuture Credit (SFC) claims processes to reduce the risk of abuse. Under the new process, while individuals will continue to submit SFC claims, all SFC payments by SSG will be made to training providers instead of individuals. Training providers will collect net fees from individuals, after offsetting the SFC that will be used.
Towards the end of January 2017, SSG uncovered more than 4,400 individuals who had submitted false SFC claims. A Process Review Committee, comprising SSG Board Members, was formed to review the policies and procedures relating to training grants.
The Committee recognised that to encourage skills upgrading and lifelong learning, the SFC claim process should continue to be simple and easy. However, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of fraudulent claims. In response to the review, SSG considers making the following changes.
Currently, when an individual submits a SFC claim, payments from SSG may be made to either the training provider or the individual. From 19 May 2017, SFC payments will be disbursed directly to only training providers.
Training providers that offer SkillsFuture Credit eligible courses will collect net fees from individuals, after offsetting the SFC that will be used. This change to the claims process will therefore not inconvenience learners. At the same time, by channeling the SFC through training providers, the risk of fraudulent claims can be significantly reduced.
SSG will continue to make an exception for selected overseas Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), where SFC payments to these training providers are currently unavailable. Individuals who sign up for such programmes, will be required to provide supporting payment documents as a part of the claims submission process.
See: More than 4,400 Individuals Submit False SkillsFuture Credit Claims in January 2017
Since the discovery of the fraudulent claims, SSG has issued letters to recover monies from the individuals involved. As of 25 April 2017, more than 85% of these individuals have returned the monies or taken steps to return the monies.
“Drawing from our experience in implementing the SkillsFuture Credit over the past one year, we will continue to review and improve our policies and procedures, while keeping the claims process user-friendly to encourage Singaporeans to use their SkillsFuture Credit. For individuals and organisations that abuse the SkillsFuture Credit, we take a stern view and will not hesitate to act against the parties involved,” said Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive of SSG.
Final Letters of Demand will be sent to all the remaining individuals who have not returned the monies, failing which, SSG will take appropriate legal action against them. An individual who provides false information to SSG in relation to his/her application may be prosecuted under Section 58 of the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency Act 2016, and be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
Also read: SkillsFuture Credit Claims by Singaporeans Expected to Hit S$30-million
Image credit: skillsfuture.sg