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Welfare gets second largest share of government spending

     Social welfare expenditure had increased by 80% from $20 billion in 1997-98 to $36 billion in 2007-08, representing the second largest share of government recurrent resource allocation, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said today (November 21).

     During the same period, the Social Welfare Department's subvention for non-governmental organisations had gone up by more than 50% from about $4.5 billion in 1997 to about $6.8 billion this year, he said.

     Speaking at the 10th anniversary reception of the Institute of Social Service Development, Mr Cheung said that quality staff were also very crucial to the development of social services.

     "While there were only about 8,300 registered social workers in Hong Kong at the end of 1998, the number has now increased to more than 14,300 - clear evidence of the rapid development of social welfare services in Hong Kong," he said.

     In view of the looming global financial tsunami which would inevitably lead to a growing demand for social welfare and much tougher challenges for social workers, Mr Cheung assured that the Government would step up communication with the welfare sector during this difficult period to ensure timely and appropriate assistance for people in need.

     Mr Cheung commended the Institute of Social Service Development's remarkable contribution in enhancing the understanding between Hong Kong and the mainland by fostering integration of social services as well as promoting cultural interactions and interflow of ideas on social service issues between the two places.

Ends/Friday, November 21, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:16


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