LCQ8: APIs on CSSA Scheme

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (February 25):


     The Government released in 2007 two television announcements in the public interest (APIs) on the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (CSSA Scheme), entitled "Welfare cheats are liable to prosecution" and "Strive to move from welfare to self-reliance" respectively.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the date on which each API was first broadcast, and whether they are still broadcast at present; if they are not, of the dates on which they went off the air; if they are, whether there is any plan to discontinue their broadcast;

(b)  of the respective numbers of times each API has been broadcast on various types of media so far, with a breakdown by the different hours of a day;

(c)  of the production cost of each API;

(d)  whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the APIs and received any comments on them; if it has conducted such an assessment and received such comments, of the details; and

(e)  whether it has any plan to produce new APIs on the CSSA Scheme; if so, of the details?



     The Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme provides a safety net for those who cannot support themselves financially. It is designed to bring their income up to a prescribed level to meet their basic needs.  The CSSA Scheme is a non-contributory social security scheme funded entirely by general revenue. Since it involves a very large amount of public funds, we must act with prudence and caution to ensure the sustainability of this safety net.

     The number of CSSA fraud cases substantiated after investigation by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and the number of suspected CSSA fraud cases reported by the public have increased steadily over the past few years. In view of this, the SWD decided to promote public education on the matter. To better grasp the focus of publicity, SWD commissioned the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to conduct a public opinion survey in September 2006. The findings of the survey showed that most of the respondents supported that SWD should produce television (TV) announcements in the public interest (APIs) with the themes of encouraging self-reliance and combating CSSA frauds.  In this connection, SWD produced two TV APIs in 2007 on the aforesaid themes as a response to public concern on the CSSA Scheme.

     My reply to the questions in seriatim is as follows -

(a)  The two TV APIs, entitled "Strive to move from welfare to self-reliance" and "Welfare cheats are liable to prosecution", were broadcast in turn starting from June 4, 2007 and ceased broadcast on October 15, 2007 and March 4, 2008 respectively.

(b)  The APIs had been broadcast on major TV Channels.  Details are given in annex.

(c)  The two TV APIs and the related radio APIs were produced as a package at a total production cost of $740,000.

(d)  When the broadcasting of its TV APIs was arranged, SWD took into account the views of the public and various sectors of the community and strived to achieve a balance to ensure that the APIs could achieve the most favourable outcome.  The aim of producing the two TV APIs is to disseminate to the public the positive message that CSSA should be rendered to those with genuine needs.  The public might have different perceptions of the TV APIs owing to the influence of various subjective or objective factors.

(e)  At present, SWD has no plan to produce new TV APIs on the CSSA Scheme.  However, it will, through various means, continue to encourage able-bodied unemployed CSSA recipients to "move from welfare to self-reliance" and make every effort to guard against fraud and abuse of CSSA.

Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:05