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LCQ1: CCF's assistance programmes for low-income persons

     Following is a question by the Hon Lee Cheuk-yan and a reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (July 17):


     The Finance Committee of this Council approved at its meeting on June 21 this year the injection of an additional $15 billion into the Community Care Fund (CCF), the main uses of which include the provision of assistance to low-income persons who cannot benefit from the Budget's relief measures, i.e. those commonly known as the "N have-nots". Such assistance programmes are expected to be launched in the second half of this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of the programmes for assisting the N have-nots, including the target recipients of assistance, amount of subsidies and implementation date;

(b) given that some N have-nots, including those low-income persons living in sub-divisions of a flat (commonly known as "sub-divided units") and illegal rooftop structures of industrial buildings, cannot benefit from the "Subsidy for low-income persons who are inadequately housed" programme launched under CCF last year, whether the authorities will consider including them in the scope of assistance in the new round of assistance programme; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it will consider providing recurrent funding on an annual basis, so that those programmes for assisting the N have-nots can be implemented as regular measures; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Community Care Fund (CCF) rolled out the "Subsidy for low-income persons who are inadequately housed" programme (the programme) from October 2012 and April 2013 to provide a one-off subsidy to such persons. Among other things, beneficiaries should not be receiving CSSA (Comprehensive Social Security Assistance) and should not own any property in Hong Kong. Their monthly household income and rental payment should also not exceed the specified limits. In addition, they should be renting rooms/cubicles, cocklofts or bed spaces in private housing; or renting bed spaces offered under the Home Affairs Department's Singleton Hostel Programme; or residing in temporary housing; or homeless. The subsidies for one-person households, two-person households and three-or-more-person households are $3,000, $6,000 and $8,000 respectively. The programme has successfully reached out to those colloquially known as "n have-nots" (generally refer to low-income persons who do not own any properties, live in public rental housing or receive CSSA) As at the end of June 2013, 25 725 households (58 921 persons) have benefited under the programme, and the amount of subsidy involved was about $149.95 million.

     In response to Hon Lee's question, my reply is as follows:

(a) The CCF plans to re-launch the programme before the end of this year, which will also cover the elderly beneficiaries under another CCF programme, namely the "Subsidy for low-income elderly tenants in private housing" programme. Under the re-launched programme, the CCF plans to relax the definition of "inadequately housed" to cover as beneficiaries all private housing residents meeting the income and rental limit requirements as well as other eligibility criteria. We will submit the programme proposal (including the eligibility criteria and subsidy amounts) to the Commission on Poverty (CoP) for consideration and approval.

(b) Residents in units of industrial buildings were not included as target beneficiaries under the programme endorsed by the then Steering Committee on the CCF last year, as it was considered that such units were not designed for domestic use, and the Government was determined to take enforcement actions against such units to ensure residents' safety. The eligibility criteria are in line with the Government's policy of taking enforcement actions against the use of industrial buildings for domestic use, and are formulated to avoid indirectly encouraging the public to live in accommodation that does not comply with lawful residential purpose.

     Indeed there are views that tenants in units of industrial buildings should be included as target beneficiaries under the re-launched programme. The CCF Task Force has already discussed the matter. We will reflect the views in our submission of the programme proposal to the CoP for consideration.

(c) In the light of the Budget's various short-term relief measures, the CCF has launched the programme to provide a one-off subsidy to the "n have-nots" who cannot benefit from such measures. The Government has no plan to incorporate the programme into the regular assistance programme and services. Nevertheless, the experience of implementing the programme will facilitate the Government's consideration of more comprehensive poverty alleviation arrangements.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Issued at HKT 13:23


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