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Elderly care - a key element of welfare expenditure (with photo/video)
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     To tie in with the policy objective of "Ageing in place", which is also the wish of most elderly people, the Government plans to launch a four-year pilot scheme on community care service (CCS) vouchers for the elderly in two phases starting from 2013-14.

     The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said at the press conference on labour and welfare initiatives in the Budget today (February 3), "The voucher scheme marks a breakthrough from the traditional funding mode. Instead of providing a subsidy to service providers, we will subsidise the service users directly to let them choose the services required."

     Mr Cheung said, "We hope to attract different types of service providers to join the market through this new funding mode of 'money follows the person', thereby promoting the further development of CCS."

     He added, "In the first phase (i.e. the first two years), we will start with a simpler scheme under which elderly people with impairment at moderate level or above may participate. We also propose one single voucher value for all users, at $5,000 per month.

     "Subject to the experience gained in the first phase, we may consider introducing more complex features in the second phase to cater for the different care needs of elderly people."

     In addition, the Government will allocate about $900 million under the Lotteries Fund in 2012-13 to improve the physical setting and facilities of up to 250 district elderly community centres, neighbourhood elderly centres and social centres in phases over a period of six years.

     "The centres can purchase more advanced equipment such as computers and leisure and sports facilities for elderly people to pursue lifelong learning and do more exercise so as to keep them safe and healthy. There is a strategic planning concept behind this initiative in promoting active ageing. By creating an environment conducive to community care services, we hope to encourage those relatively able-bodied elderly people to participate more in community activities.

     "Together with the aforesaid CCS voucher pilot scheme and the public transport concession scheme for the elderly and eligible people with disabilities to be launched later this year, there will be a synergy effect to encourage more elderly people to lead a fuller and richer golden age," Mr Cheung said.

     To enhance the support for elderly people with dementia, recurrent funding for providing the Dementia Supplement to subvented residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs), private RCHEs under the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme (EBPS) and day care centres/units for the elderly will be increased by $137 million. It is expected to benefit around 5 000 elderly people (around 4 550 in residential care homes and 450 in day care centres).

     Coupled with that, the Government will continue to increase the provision of community care places. In addition, further resources will continue to be allocated to increase the provision of subsidised residential care places and improve their quality in order to cater for elderly people who have to rely on residential care services.

     Including the new provision funded in 2012-13, over 2 600 new residential care places (about 1 250 nursing home places and about 1 400 care and attention places) will commence operation from 2011-12 to 2014-15. Furthermore, the Government proposes to allocate about $15 million to upgrade over 600 EA2 places to EA1 level under the EBPS.

     Mr Cheung said, "The recurrent expenditure on social welfare in 2012-13 amounts to $44 billion (estimate), up $3.6 billion or 9 per cent over $40.4 billion (revised estimate) last year (2011-12). It also represents an increase of $10 billion or 29 per cent over $34 billion (actual) in 2007-08. This fully demonstrates the Government's commitment and the importance it attaches to social welfare."

     Along with the expenditure on social security, elderly care services have all along shared the largest part in the social welfare expenditure. The recurrent expenditure on elderly care services in 2012-13 amounts to $5 billion, representing about 11 per cent of the total recurrent social welfare expenditure.

     The government recurrent expenditure for elderly people on social security, elderly care services and health-care services amounts to $43.5 billion, representing 16.5 per cent of the total recurrent government expenditure. It shows an increase of 37 per cent over the expenditure of $31.8 billion in 2007-08.

(For other major initiatives on labour and welfare, please refer to the PowerPoint presentation in the attachment.^

Ends/Friday, February 3, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:26

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