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CS visits Working Family Allowance Office (with photos)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, this afternoon (January 7) visited the Working Family Allowance Office (WFAO) of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency in Kwun Tong. The WFAO was set up on March 1, 2015, to implement the Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) Scheme.

     Mrs Lam was first briefed by the Head of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency, Mr Esmond Lee, and officers of the WFAO on the progress of the preparations for the LIFA Scheme. The LIFA Scheme aims to ease the financial burden of low-income working families not receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). It promotes self-reliance and encourages the working family members to stay in employment to avoid falling into the CSSA net, as well as reduces inter-generational poverty and further promotes upward social mobility in the long run. The Scheme will start receiving applications in phases from May 3 this year onwards. The WFAO has been working at full steam to prepare for the implementation of the LIFA Scheme, including finalising the workflow and operational details, conducting comprehensive tests on the information technology system, launching the publicity of the LIFA Scheme and carrying out staff recruitment and training.

     Accompanied by Mr Lee, Mrs Lam visited the WFAO's Hotline Enquiry Unit, the Information Technology Management Unit and the Publicity, Operation and Administration teams and talked to front-line staff. Mrs Lam said she recognised the efforts of the WFAO's staff over the recent months in implementing the LIFA Scheme. She encouraged them to continue making an all-out effort for a smooth roll-out of the Scheme in May this year to enable low-income working families to receive assistance as soon as possible.

     In October 2013, the current-term Government announced the first official poverty line and published the first Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report, in which the analysis identified working poor families (particularly those with children) as the group most in need of assistance. Subsequently, the Chief Executive announced the LIFA Scheme in his 2014 Policy Address. Funding for the Scheme was approved by the Legislative Council Finance Committee in January 2015. The estimated annual expenditure is about $3 billion. It is expected to benefit 200 000 low-income working families, comprising a total of 700 000 people including 170 000 eligible children and youths. The overall poverty rate is projected to reduce by 2 percentage points and the child poverty rate by 4.2 percentage points as a result of the implementation of the Scheme.

Ends/Thursday, January 7, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:01


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