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CE chairs Commission on Poverty Summit 2015 (with photos)

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, today (October 10) chaired the Commission on Poverty (CoP) Summit. The Chief Secretary for Administration and Chairman of the CoP, Mrs Carrie Lam, presented the analysis of the poverty situation in Hong Kong in 2014 at the Summit. The theme of this year's Summit is "promoting youth upward mobility". Overseas and local experts were invited to share their opinions on the theme.

     More than 500 guests attended the Summit. Besides members of the CoP and its four Task Forces, representatives from the political, business and academic sectors, think tanks, non-governmental organisations and concern groups were also present at the Summit. Relevant principal officials, under secretaries and heads of governments departments also took part.

     The first part of the Summit reviewed the analysis of the poverty situation in Hong Kong in 2014. This was followed by a keynote speech delivered by an overseas expert and a panel discussion among both local and overseas professionals. A mentorship programme, "Life Buddies", organised by the CoP's Youth Education, Employment and Training Task Force was kicked off at same occasion. The second half of the Summit comprised work reporting session and open discussions. The chairpersons of the of the CoP's four Task Forces first gave an account of their work progress in the previous year, and then the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary for Administration, the four relevant principal officials/under secretary to exchange views with summit participants on poverty alleviation work.

     Speaking on the latest poverty situation, Mrs Lam said this is the third time the CoP announced its yearly analysis on poverty since the poverty line was introduced in 2013. Updating the poverty line on a yearly basis helps us keep abreast of the poverty situation, assess the effectiveness of poverty alleviation policies and guide future policy formulation. In the past two years, the concept of poverty line has been gradually gaining wider acceptance by the community as an objective indicator and a common foundation for the deliberation of poverty issues in Hong Kong. The data in the analysis has also inspired other related academic and policy studies in the community to facilitate the community to examine the poverty from various perspectives.

     On the back of moderate economic growth in 2014, household income was improved, uplifting the poverty line thresholds. Compared with 2013, the number of poor households remained largely unchanged before policy intervention was introduced. The number of the poor population and the poverty rate stood at 1 324 800 and 19.6 per cent respectively. After recurrent cash policy intervention, the size of poor population reduced to 960 000 while the poverty rate fell to 14.3 per cent in 2014. Both indicators fell to their lowest in the past six years. The detailed analysis of the poverty situation in 2014 was published today in the "Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2014" by the Economic Analysis Division of the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit and the Census and Statistics Department.

     The Government's policy intervention in 2014 successfully helped lift 172 600 households (362 700 people) out of poverty, substantially reducing the poverty rate by 5.3 percentage point. This is the second consecutive year that the population in poverty has stood below one million, demonstrating that the various poverty alleviation initiatives introduced by the current-term Government have yielded considerable results.

     The analysis of various recurrent cash measures showed that the means-tested Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) and the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) had a more visible impact on poverty alleviation (poverty rates down by 3.0 percentage points and 1.6 percentage points respectively) compared to the other two non-means-tested schemes, the Disability Allowance and the Old Age Allowance (OAA) (poverty rates down by 0.3 percentage point and 0.2 percentage point respectively). This showed that more targeted initiatives should yield more significant results in poverty alleviation.

     The analysis of the poverty situation also showed that the provision of public rental housing has a notable effect on poverty alleviation. Taking into account the non-cash transfer value of public rental housing, the overall poverty rate saw a further reduction of 4.7 percentage points, from 14.3 per cent to 9.6 per cent, reducing the poor population to 648 200. Its effectiveness in poverty alleviation is much higher than that of the CSSA (reducing the overall poverty rate by 4.7 percentage points). Public rental housing which involves substantial resources is an important measure in poverty alleviation. It provides practical support for the livelihood of the grassroots. The CoP will explore how to include the effectiveness of public rental housing in the main analysis of the poverty line to provide a more comprehensive analysis on the poverty situation. The Census and Statistics Department is conducting the 2014/15 Household Expenditure Survey, the results of which should be helpful in understanding further the expenditure pattern of poor households, including housing expenditure, so as to improve the analysis of the poverty line.

     Mrs Lam said that before policy intervention in 2014, there had been a notable decrease in the number of working households, unemployed households and CSSA households compared with 2013. In addition, the total CSSA caseload at the end of August this year stood at 248 247, representing a continuous decrease in CSSA cases for 53 consecutive months. The figures reflected that employment is the best route out of poverty. With stable economic development, many people are willing to rejoin or enter the workforce, showing that self-reliance is still the core value of Hong Kong. She added that the Government will continue to strive for developing the economy in order to create more employment opportunities. On the poverty situation of the non-CSSA working households, Mrs Lam noted that there was a slight improvement in 2014. Before policy intervention, the number of non-CSSA working households living in poverty stood at 136 200, down by 3.2 per cent compared with a year earlier. However, the situation still warrants concern. The Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme, to be launched in the second quarter of 2016, will target at supporting such households. It is expected that the scheme can benefit 200 000 households involving some 700 000 people (including 170 000 children and youngsters) which would further bring down the poverty rate.

     Mrs Lam pointed out that a continuous ageing population will pose a challenge to the work of poverty alleviation. The overall elderly population in 2014 increased by 44 000 compared with 2013. As most of the elders do not have income from work, they are likely to be classified as poor under the limited definition of the poverty line. The poverty situation among elders will be over-estimated. Hence, there is a need to conduct a more in-depth analysis to identify those in need.

     The theme of the Summit was "promoting youth upward mobility". An overseas expert, Mr David Johnston from the United Kingdom (UK), was invited to speak and share the relevant experience overseas. Mr Johnston is the Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, a UK charity promoting social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds. He is also a commissioner of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty (SMCP) Commission, which is a statutory body appointed by the UK Government to monitor the progress of government work in improving social mobility and reducing child poverty. In his presentation and at the panel discussion, Mr Johnston shared with other speakers and participants the social mobility situation in the UK, the UK Government's policy initiatives and the strategies recommended by the SMCP Commission on promoting social mobility, as well as the experience of his organisation in helping young people from low-income backgrounds moving upwards.

     In addition, the Chief Executive officiated at the kick-off ceremony of the "Life Buddies" Mentorship Programme organised by the Youth Education, Employment and Training Task Force under the CoP during the first half of the Summit. With a focus on career aspiration and training, the programme aims to enhance young people's upward mobility by planning their future under the encouragement and guidance of mentors. To encourage more interested people to be mentors, the Commission produced a TV Announcement in the Public Interest which was premiered at the Summit. The Programme's Facebook page and the webpage of the "Life Buddies Mentorship Corner" ( were also launched at the Summit.

     In the second half of the Summit, the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary for Administration, relevant principal officials and under secretary and the Chairpersons of the Task Forces exchanged views with participants on poverty alleviation strategies and work priorities. Representatives from various sectors held enthusiastic discussions on how to tackle poverty in Hong Kong and the CoP's work.

     Publications distributed at the Summit included the "Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2014", the presentation slides on the analysis of the poverty situation in 2014, the "Commission on Poverty Progress Report 2015", the "Future Stars" Programme Booklet, the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund Task Force Booklet and the Community Care Fund Booklet. These publications have been uploaded to the CoP's dedicated website (

Ends/Saturday, October 10, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:57


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