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SLW visits Eastern District (with photos)

     The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, visited Eastern District this morning (December 17) to exchange views with District Councillors and to call in at an elderly centre in North Point to learn about day care services for elders.

     At a meeting with the Eastern District Council Chairman, Mr Wong Kin-pan, and council members, Mr Cheung heard views on the ageing population, labour and employment, as well as on various welfare services and facilities issues. He took the opportunity to brief the councillors on the latest developments of a number of labour and welfare initiatives including the Guangdong Scheme, which will be launched in the second half of next year, as well as training, retraining and employment support services, the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme, the statutory minimum wage and the study on standard working hours.

     After the meeting, Mr Cheung visited the Eastern District Elderly Community Centre of the Hong Kong Society for the Aged (SAGE) in North Point.

     Accompanied by the Chairman of SAGE, Dr Kim Mak, and founding member Mrs Rose Goodstadt, Mr Cheung toured the facilities to learn about the services offered and exchange views with elderly visitors. He was pleased to discover that the centre has made full use of information technology in the provision of various services, such as the management of home care support and the provision of useful news on the dedicated portal for the elderly, "eElderly".

     To cope with an ageing population, the Government has committed substantial resources to providing various elderly services in recent years. About $900 million will be allocated under the Lotteries Fund 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 SAGE Eastern District Elderly Community Centre is one of those centres to be upgraded.

     Mr Cheung said, "By equipping the centres with advanced facilities, we hope to encourage elderly people to participate in community activities, exercise regularly and pursue lifelong learning in order to stay healthy and active. It is a significant initiative to support ageing in the community."

     Mr Cheung updated the elderly users on the the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA). He said, "The initiative is expected to benefit more than 400 000 elders. The Social Welfare Department is now pressing ahead with the preparation work at full steam. Disbursement of a total of five months' allowance is expected to reach the first batch of 290 000 qualified elders who have previously declared their financial condition by April next year." He also pointed out that the asset and income limits of the OALA have been adjusted in accordance with the annual adjustment mechanism for the Social Security Allowance Scheme. The asset limit for a single elderly person has been increased from $186,000 to $193,000 while that for a married couple has risen from $281,000 to $292,000.

     Mr Cheung also listened to the seniors' views on elderly services and encouraged them to make good use of the Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities to widen their social network and lead an enriched life.

Ends/Monday, December 17, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:11


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