LCQ12: Support for self-help organisations of persons with disabilities
The Government completed a review of the Hong Kong Rehabilitation Programme Plan in 2007 and endorsed the future directions of development of self-help organisations of persons with disabilities (self-help organisations), which included providing project-based financial support for self-help organisations or recommending them to charitable funds, as well as facilitating their building up of a cross-sectoral network and tapping of more resources. Some self-help organisations' persons-in-charge have relayed to me that there is a lack of transparency in the vetting and approval procedure of the Financial Support Scheme for Self-help Organisations of Persons with Disabilities/Chronic Illnesses (financial support scheme). Moreover, the funding amounts received by some self-help organisations were inadequate to cover their daily operating expenses. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) in each of the past five years, of (i) the respective numbers of self-help organisations recommended to charitable funds by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and the respective numbers of recommendations made, and (ii) the respective numbers of activities organised by SWD to facilitate self-help organisations' building up of a cross-sectoral network and tapping of more resources; the respective numbers of self-help organisations participated in such activities and the specific results achieved by various activities;
(2) of the respective numbers of applications received and those approved by SWD as well as the (i) smallest, (ii) largest, (iii) median and (iv) average amounts of funding involved in the applications approved, in each of the past five rounds of applications under the financial support scheme;
(3) whether SWD has set ceilings on the total funding amount approved and the number of self-help organisations receiving financial support for each round of applications under the financial support scheme; how SWD has dealt with the shortage of funds under the scheme, and the criteria for deciding the funding amounts approved for individual applications under such circumstance; and
(4) given that SWD stated in its paper for the meeting of the Panel on Welfare Services of this Council on March 26, 2013 that it would continue to review the operation of self-help organisations and secure additional resources to meet the demand when necessary, of the date of the last review conducted by SWD and its outcome; what specific measures SWD has put in place to tackle the difficulties faced by self-help organisations at present?
The policy objectives of the Government in the development of self-help organisations of persons with disabilities are to foster the spirit of self-help and mutual help among persons with disabilities and their families/carers, and encourage the active participation of persons with disabilities and self-help organisations in the formulation of rehabilitation policies and services.
To support the development and operation of self-help organisations of persons with disabilities, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) launched the Financial Support Scheme for Self-help Organisations of Persons with Disabilities/Chronic Illnesses (Financial Support Scheme) in 2001 to provide funding support for these organisations. Unlike those subvented services provided by non-governmental organisations with regular subvention granted by SWD, the Financial Support Scheme does not specify or prescribe the details or quantity of services to be provided by self-help organisations, with the aim of providing persons with disabilities and their families/carers with time-defined and project-based support in addition to regular rehabilitation services. Under the Financial Support Scheme, applications are invited every two years, and each batch of applications is processed independently. The actual amount of funding allocated to each applicant organisation is subject to the resources available under the Financial Support Scheme for the year, the number of eligible applicant organisations and the content of proposals submitted by individual organisations. The funding amounts received by applicant organisations may therefore vary from batch to batch.
Apart from SWD's Financial Support Scheme, self-help organisations may seek resources from other charitable or government funds, such as The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, S.K. Yee Fund for the Disabled, Queen Elizabeth Foundation for the Mentally Handicapped and Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged, etc. Furthermore, through the Community Rehabilitation Network (CRN) of The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation subsidised by SWD, persons with disabilities/chronic illnesses and their families are provided with education, training and support services and assistance in setting up mutual help networks. CRN also strengthens the publicity and promotion of the nature and functions of self-help organisations for persons with disabilities in the wider community and facilitates the building up of a cross-sectoral network and tapping of more resources.
My reply to the question raised by the Hon Shiu Ka-chun is as follows:
(1) When a self-help organisation seeks funding from other charitable funds, the funding bodies concerned may consult SWD on that application if necessary. SWD will assess the application before making recommendations. SWD does not maintain the number of recommendations made to various charitable funds in respect of the funding applications submitted by self-help organisations and the number of self-help organisations recommended. In the past five years, the CRN organised about 1 100 cross-sectoral network activities for self-help organisations of persons with disabilities/chronic illnesses with satisfactory results as assessed by CRN. SWD does not maintain the number of self-help organisations that participated in cross-sectoral network activities.
(2) The number of applications from self-help organisations, the number of successful applicant organisations as well as the smallest, largest, median and average amounts of funding involved for the past five batches of Financial Support Scheme are tabulated in Annex.
(3) Since 2014-15, the Government has increased the total amount of annual funding allocated to the Financial Support Scheme from about $10 million to about $15 million to support the operation and development of the self-help organisations of persons with disabilities/chronic illnesses. As mentioned above, each batch of applications for the Financial Support Scheme is processed independently. Since there is no ceiling on the number of applicant organisations, if the number of applicant organisations increases, the amount of funding for some applicant organisations may be reduced correspondingly.
On assessment of applications, SWD will set up an assessment panel to vet and approve all applications based on the project plans submitted by applicant organisations and a set of objective assessment criteria, and determine the amounts of funding for individual applications. The assessment criteria for the Financial Support Scheme include: whether the activities under the project plan are in line with the objectives of the Financial Support Scheme; whether the budget for the project plan is reasonable and cost-effective; expected outcome indicators for the activities under the project plan; feasibility of the project plan; self-reliance and sustainability of the organisation; financial position of the organisation; and record of previous application(s) for the Financial Support Scheme made by the organisation and its performance on project implementation. Before inviting self-help organisations to submit applications for the latest batch of Financial Support Scheme, SWD will hold a briefing session on the above assessment criteria so that these organisations can make full preparation for their project plans.
(4) SWD conducted a questionnaire survey for service evaluation among self-help organisations in March 2014 with a view to enhancing the Financial Support Scheme. Most of the organisations agreed that funding under the Financial Support Scheme should be allocated to successful applicant organisations based on the scores they obtained against some objective assessment criteria, instead of being granted on a flat-rate basis. In April 2014, SWD held a consultation session to share the survey results with self-help organisations and adopted their recommendations for the implementation of the 2014-2016 Financial Support Scheme. To further support the operation and development of self-help organisations of persons with disabilities/chronic illnesses, the Government has also increased the annual recurrent expenditure for the Financial Support Scheme from about $10 million to about $15 million since 2014-15. SWD will continue to review the service needs of persons with disabilities/chronic illnesses so as to provide them with appropriate support.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:55
Issued at HKT 11:55