CS speaks on Community Care Fund (with video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Secretary for Administration and Chairman of the Steering Committee on the Community Care Fund, Mr Stephen Lam, at a media session after a meeting of the Steering Committee on the Community Care Fund at the lobby of the West Wing, Central Government Offices, Tamar, today (May 23):

Reporter: Mr Lam, concerning the project for people living in a very poor living environment, how would you define a very poor living environment? Do you think a one-off supplement is enough ...?

Chief Secretary for Administration: I would say that the Community Care Fund Steering Committee today has made some very important decisions. Firstly, we have decided to adopt a plan to help those who are inadequately housed and who are carrying low incomes to have a one-off allowance to help them look after their families better. Those who are inadequately housed will be defined as those who are living in bed spaces, cubicles, temporary housing, or those who are homeless. Also people who apply to the Community Care Fund for such allowances cannot be those who are receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance. They cannot be property owners, and there will be an income limit test. Also, we have decided to adopt a one-off allowance of $3,000 for single-person families. Those which are two-person families will get $6,000 assistance, one-off. And those which are three-person or more families will get $8,000 one-off assistance. We believe that this plan will be able to assist about 13,000 families, about 30,000 individuals, and will cost up to $90 million.

     We've also decided to adopt a regularisation programme for suitable items and programmes which have been launched in the last year or so by the Community Care Fund. As an example, we have plans to regularise the subsidised luncheon for students in primary schools whose families do not have adequate means. This will be carefully planned in the course of the 2012/13 academic year. For the next academic year, the Community Care Fund will continue to fund this initiative, but thereafter it will be taken up by the Education Bureau, and Dr Law can give you a briefing on another plan which we have adopted.

Reporter: What is the progress of CCF so far in your own views?

Chief Secretary for Administration: Well, I think we are making very good progress. Within a year or so, we have launched over a dozen initiatives in the fields of education, medical and health services, and social services areas.

     I think what we have really achieved is to identify groups which fall between the gaps in this community - those who have needs, but where our safety nets like public housing and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance have not been able to catch all of them completely. And because the Community Care Fund has been able to fill these gaps, after some pilot testing we are now in a position to regularise some of these programmes, and we will do so progressively. So we have got $5 billion from the legislature and $1.8 billion in donation undertakings from commercial enterprises and other individuals. We can now start to recycle some of these funds, because we have these regularisation proposals. The Government will fund some of these recurrent undertakings, and the Community Care Fund will therefore be able to recycle the funds available to look after other grass-roots sectors and to launch other pilot projects.

     I think we are very fortunate to have the members of the Community Care Fund who are in different community services spheres like medical, education and social services. They're all very experienced people, and the initiatives I've seen are all very practicable and very capable of implementation.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:11