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LCQ20: CSSA rent allowance

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung, in the Legislative Council today (October 28):

Question :

     At present, the rents for private housing continue to increase.  A survey conducted by an organisation has even found that the monthly rents per square foot for many cubicle apartments and "cage homes" are even higher than those for luxurious residential units, and exceed the maximum levels of rent allowance ("MRA") per month provided to Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme recipients.  As a result, those recipients have to meet the shortfall using other subsidies and are plunged into great hardship.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council-

(a) of the process for determining the above MRA by the Government;

(b) of the details of the mechanism for reviewing MRA; and

(c) when the authorities will review MRA again?

Reply :


     The Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme is designed to provide financial support to families in need to meet their basic needs.  Rent allowance is payable to eligible CSSA recipients to meet the accommodation expenses.  The amount of the allowance is the actual rent paid, or the maximum level prescribed by the number of members in the household eligible for CSSA, whichever is the less.  The prevailing levels of maximum rent allowance (MRA) are as follows -

Number of members
in the household
eligible for CSSA    Monthly MRA
-----------------    -----------
     1               $1,265
     2               $2,550
     3               $3,330
     4               $3,545
     5               $3,550
     6 or above      $4,435

     For CSSA recipients living in private housing and on the waiting list for compassionate rehousing or admission to a subvented home for the elderly, the Director of Social Welfare may exercise discretion to approve a rent allowance higher than the MRA to cover the actual rent paid.  In 2008, there were 122 such cases.

     My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(a) and (b) Under the rent allowance adjustment mechanism, the MRA is adjusted annually in accordance with the movement of the Consumer Price Index (A) rent index for private housing.  The index is compiled by the Census and Statistics Department on a monthly basis to measure the rental movements of private housing of the relatively low expenditure non-CSSA households.

     The MRA was last adjusted in June 2003, and has since been frozen at the 2003 level, having regard to the state of the economy.

(c) We will continue to monitor the situation, and adjust the MRA in accordance with the established mechanism when necessary.

Ends/Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:41


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