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Commission on Poverty convenes 10th meeting

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, chaired the 10th meeting of the Commission on Poverty (CoP) this afternoon (March 24).

     The discussion mainly focused on the proposals of various assistance programmes under the Community Care Fund (CCF). Details are as follows:

(1) A financial provision of $176.018 million was endorsed for the fourth year (i.e. August 2014 to July 2015) of the First Phase Programme of the CCF Medical Assistance Programmes to continue providing financial assistance to Hospital Authority patients in need to purchase specified self-financed cancer drugs which have not yet been brought into the Samaritan Fund safety net, but have been rapidly accumulating medical scientific evidence for relatively higher efficacy. It is expected that financial assistance will be granted to 1 700 patients, including both new applications and re-applications by patients who have gone through treatment protocols;

(2) A new two-year programme, the Pilot Scheme on Living Allowance for Carers of the Elderly Persons from Low Income Families, was endorsed to provide a monthly allowance of $2,000 to eligible carers of elderly persons to subsidise their living expenses. The total commitment of the scheme will be $126 million, benefitting 2 000 eligible carers;

(3) The Special Subsidy to Persons with Severe Physical Disabilities for Renting Respiratory Support Medical Equipment programme and the Special Subsidy to Persons with Severe Physical Disabilities for Purchasing Medical Consumables Related to Respiratory Support Medical Equipment programme were extended until the third quarter of the year 2014-15 , when these two programmes become regularised as announced by the Chief Executive in the 2014 Policy Address, so as to ensure that beneficiaries can enjoy continual care as well as remain living in the community.  Meanwhile, the programmes will start a fresh round of application to enable more persons with severe physical disabilities to benefit from these programmes before their regularisation. The above-mentioned proposal requires an additional commitment of $3.07 million to the Special Subsidy to Persons with Severe Physical Disabilities for Renting Respiratory Support Medical Equipment programme;

(4) The After-school Care Pilot Scheme was extended for one year to the 2014/15 school year subsequent to review, with a commitment of $40 million.  Elements of the programme which are recognised as effective will be progressively integrated into other after-school support schemes; and

(5) After reviewing the School-based Fund for Cross Boundary Learning Activities, it was found that the current mode of subsidy may not be the most effective and may not be able to achieve the scheme's original intention.  The programme will be suspended after the current school year.  Schools may still apply for funding via the Quality Education Fund so as to provide assistance to students from low-income families to join cross-boundary learning activities based on their educational needs more effectively.

     Moreover, to follow up on the Chief Executive's proposal in the 2014 Policy Address to improve the current situation which requires members of the public to approach different departments to apply for benefits under different welfare schemes, the Efficiency Unit will commission a consultancy study to examine the feasibility of providing a more user-friendly one-stop service.  At the meeting, the Head of the Efficiency Unit and his colleagues briefed members about the background and objective of the consultancy study.  Members also noted the work progress of its Task Forces since the CoP Summit on September 28 last year.

Ends/Monday, March 24, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:56


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