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LCQ8: Measures to assist unemployed or low income CSSA recipients

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-kin and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (July 4):


     At present, able-bodied recipients under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme who are 15 to 59 years of age and unemployed or working part-time are required to participate in the Support for Self-reliance Scheme.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the latest measures in place to assist unemployed or low income CSSA recipients in securing employment again and increasing their incomes;

(b) whether the Social Welfare Department, Labour Department and Employees Retraining Board (ERB) will strengthen their liaison to proactively introduce to CSSA recipients the courses organised by ERB-entrusted training bodies (retraining courses) and encourage them to take such courses;

(c) whether it knows the number of people who had enrolled in retraining courses in each of the past five years; among such people, of the number of those who were CSSA recipients when they enrolled in the courses;

(d) of the numbers of CSSA recipients who had been re-employed and stopped receiving CSSA payments after completing the retraining courses in each of the past five years; in what industries and positions these people were mainly employed; and

(e) whether it will consider making it a requirement for all CSSA recipients eligible for enrolling in retraining courses to take these courses, so as to enhance their opportunity in securing employment again; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to the Hon Wong Kwok-kin's questions is as follows:

(a) and (e) The Social Welfare Department (SWD) generally requires recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) who have the capacity to work, but who are unemployed, or whose monthly earnings or working hours do not meet the prescribed standard, to join the Support for Self-reliance Scheme.  The Scheme aims at encouraging and helping them secure full-time paid employment and move towards self-reliance.  In this regard, SWD commissions non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide various employment assistance services.  These include the Integrated Employment Assistance Scheme designed for able-bodied CSSA recipients aged between 15 and 59, and the Special Training and Enhancing Programme (My STEP) specially designed for CSSA youths aged between 15 and 29 (Note).  NGOs providing these services will, based on the need of the CSSA recipients, refer them to enrol in courses of the Employees Retraining Board (ERB).  ERB's policy is to give enrolment priority to CSSA recipients.  As CSSA recipients have different aspirations and abilities, and there are many ways to upgrade oneself and find jobs, we do not consider it necessary to make enrolment in ERB courses mandatory for CSSA recipients.

     To enhance the effectiveness of the various employment assistance services and achieve synergy, SWD will integrate them in January 2013.  

     Separately, the Disregarded Earnings arrangement under the CSSA Scheme allows part of the recipient's monthly earnings from employment to be disregarded when assessing the amount of assistance payable.  This can provide CSSA recipients with financial incentives to seek jobs and stay in employment.

(b) The Labour Department (LD) set up a pioneer Employment in One-stop (EOS) service centre in Tin Shui Wai in December 2011 with the aim of streamlining, integrating and enhancing the existing employment and training/retraining services provided by LD, SWD and ERB.  EOS and an ERB Service Centre are co-located in the same building.  Since their launch, EOS and the ERB Service Centre have been working closely and helping one another in publicising their services and activities for the benefit of their service users.  

     In the first year and second year of EOS' operation, SWD will respectively refer 500 and 750 unemployed able-bodied CSSA recipients in Tin Shui Wai to EOS for receiving case management and employment support services provided by case managers who are registered social workers.  If the case managers assess that these job seekers have training or re-training needs, they will be referred direct to the ERB Service Centre for enrolment into suitable ERB courses.  Moreover, to enhance their employability, ERB Service Centre will organise tailor-made workshops on areas such as language and computer application for these job-seekers.

(c) There were 627 196 applications for ERB's training courses in the past five years.  Among them, 44 801 were CSSA recipients.

(d) Through its territory-wide network of training centres set up by the training bodies, ERB provides a wide array of training courses, including full-time placement-tied courses, part-time or evening "Skills Upgrading Scheme Plus" courses as well as generic skills training courses.  Training bodies generally offer placement follow-up services for trainees upon their completion of placement-tied courses.  Such services last for three to six months.

     For CSSA recipients who completed placement-tied courses in the past five years, the average placement rate was 74%.  Most of them were employed in the fields of social and personal services (50%), commercial services (31%) and consumer services (19%).  ERB does not have information regarding the positions which they have taken up or their CSSA status upon completion of the training courses.  

Note: SWD also commissions NGOs to run the New Dawn Project for single parents and child carers on CSSA, whose youngest child is aged between 12 and 14.  The objective of this Project is to help the CSSA recipients gradually adapt to working life, in order to prepare them for self-reliance in future.  It does not require them to seek full-time jobs immediately.

Ends/Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:17


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