Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
Commission on Poverty convenes 15th meeting (with photos)

     The Commission on Poverty (CoP) under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, today (November 29) convened its 15th meeting in the morning. It was also the last meeting of the current term before its expiry on November 30.

     The Chief Executive, Mr CY Leung, attended the meeting to review the poverty situation in 2013 with some 70 attending members, as well as to listen to their opinions on poverty alleviation work.  Apart from current-term CoP and Task Force members, newly appointed members for the coming term also joined the meeting.

     The poverty situation in 2013 and the work reports of various Task Forces under the CoP in the past year were presented in the first part of the meeting. The latter half of the meeting was an open discussion in which the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary for Administration, as well as senior officials of relevant bureaux reviewed the work of the CoP and explored its way forward with participants.
     During her presentation on the latest poverty situation, Mrs Carrie Lam said that there had been a marked improvement in the poverty situation in 2013 when compared with that of 2012. After recurrent cash policy interventions, the poor population in Hong Kong decreased from  1 020 000 in 2012 to 970 000 in 2013 while the poverty rate dropped from 15.2 per cent to 14.5 per cent. Both indicators were at the record-low level in the last five years covered by the analysis.

     The provision of public rental housing has a notable impact on poverty alleviation. Taking into account the non-cash transfer value of public rental housing, the overall poverty rate saw a further reduction, from 14.5 per cent to 9.8 per cent, and the poor population dropped to 660 000. Public rental housing is an important measure in improving the livelihood of the grass-roots. The Government is committed to increasing the supply of public rental housing and this requires support from various sectors in society to help the Government identify more land for public housing.

     Mrs Lam further explained with the figures of poverty situation in 2013 that, taking into account of the recurrent cash policy interventions including the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA), there was a drastic decrease of 14.4 percentage points in the poverty rate among elderly persons aged 65 or above, down from 44.9 per cent to 30.5 per cent, which is notably higher than the corresponding decrease recorded in 2012 (10.2 per cent). Among the some 290 000 elderly persons living below the poverty line, over 80 per cent were beneficiaries of various social security payments (such as Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), the OALA and the Old Age Allowance (OAA)). In interpreting the elderly poverty rate, one should take note that the poverty line takes household income as the single indicator for measuring poverty without considering the amount of assets and liabilities. Hence, the poverty rate among the elderly will be over-estimated because retirees in general have lower income.

     The analysis of the poverty situation also showed that the means-tested CSSA and OALA had a more visible impact on poverty alleviation (poverty rates down by 2.8 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively) than the other two non-means-tested schemes, the OAA and the Disability Allowance (both recorded poverty rate reductions of 0.3 per cent). This illustrates that more targeted initiatives yield more significant results in poverty alleviation, and utilise public resources in a more effective manner. This also sheds light for the CoP in tackling other issues, such as retirement protection, in the future.

     Among the some 380 000 households living below the poverty line after recurrent cash benefits, 84 900 households (205 800 persons) were living on CSSA. The remaining 299 900 were non-CSSA households. Almost half of them (140 800 households) were working households involving 469 700 persons.

     Mrs Lam noted that the decrease in the number of non-CSSA working households living below the poverty line was less than 2 per cent when compared the figures for 2013 and 2012, showing that these households have yet to benefit from recurrent cash policies due to various reasons. Their situation deserves priority attention. This group of households has a greater number of household members, with 82 per cent being households with three persons or more and the average number of working members is 1.2 persons per household. In addition, nearly 30 per cent of the members in these households are children and students pursuing studies creating a heavy family burden. She said at the meeting she hopes that the Legislative Council could approve funding for the Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme as soon as possible so that families in need could benefit from the initiative in a timely manner.

     In the second part of the meeting, the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary for Administration, as well as senior officials of relevant bureaux exchanged views with the participants on the work progress and way forward of the CoP.
     Publications distributed at the meeting, including the "Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2013", the presentation slides on analysis of the poverty situation in 2013, the "Commission on Poverty Progress Report 2014" and the "Future Stars" Programme Booklet, the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund Task Force Booklet and the Community Care Fund Booklet 2014, have been uploaded to the CoP's dedicated website (

     The second Poverty Summit was originally scheduled for October 4 to release the updated poverty line and situation, but the event was called off due to the occupy movement. Having considered that the latest poverty situation analysis is important and time-critical policy data and is also useful for the CoP to consider its working priority in the coming term, the Government has therefore arranged to publish the poverty situation data before the expiry of the current-term CoP. At the same time, the Government is making preparation to convene Poverty Summit in the near future.

Ends/Saturday, November 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:35


Photo Photo Photo Photo
Print this page