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CE announces measures to help disadvantaged and elderly

     Poverty alleviation, elderly care and support for the disadvantaged are at the top of the Government's agenda, the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, said today (January 13) in the 2016 Policy Address.

     He said the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly would issue an additional 1,800 vouchers this year, on top of the 1,200 issued in 2014 under the first phase of the scheme.

     The scheme provides subsidies that allow elderly people to choose community care services that suit their needs.

     The Chief Executive said that, over the past four years, public resources for elderly services had increased by 55 per cent, while recurrent spending on support services for people with disabilities had increased by nearly 50 per cent.

     Mr Leung said the inter-departmental working group had completed its review of eligibility criteria for the Disability Allowance and that the Government would implement the following recommendations, among others:

* Improve the existing medical assessment arrangement for the Disability Allowance; and

* Invite the Community Care Fund to introduce pilot schemes to provide a living allowance for low-income carers of persons with disabilities, raising the maximum level of disregarded earnings for recipients with disabilities under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, and providing an additional grant for recipients of higher Disability Allowance who are in paid employment.

     Mr Leung said the Government, through its Pilot Scheme on On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services, has approved the provision of more than 2,900 on-site service places by 16 non-governmental organisations in more than 450 kindergartens or child care centres. The scheme, introduced in 2015-16, provides timely support for children wait-listed for services.

     He said the Department of Health would establish a new Child Assessment Centre to fulfil the performance pledge of providing assessment and professional diagnosis within six months.

     On the development of an age-friendly community, Mr Leung said the Government is progressively enhancing barrier-free access of public walkways under the Universal Accessibility Programme (UAP).

     The Government has completed over 20 projects and will press ahead with about 180 remaining projects in all 18 districts to improve accessibility for the elderly and the public.

     These projects include three priority projects selected by each of the 18 District Councils (DCs). It is expected that about 80 per cent of the projects will be completed in phases by 2018.

     The Government plans to further invite the 18 DCs to nominate, starting in the fourth quarter of this year, not more than three walkways in each district for incorporation into the second phase of the UAP.

     Mr Leung said Hong Kong has many hillside buildings, and that slopes and staircases are quite common. The Government plans to take forward the construction of three lift and pedestrian walkway systems in Tsing Yi, Kwai Chung and Kowloon City. An elevated walkway in Tseung Kwan O and a footbridge in Tsuen Wan will also be built to provide convenient access.

     In addition, the Government will invite the DCs to nominate suitable walkways to be covered, with work expected to commence in phases from 2018.

     The Government will examine the application of technology to extend the pedestrian green time to assist the elderly and the needy to cross signalised road junctions.

     The Government will enhance the Hong Kong eTransport system to provide voice recognition input and audio route search results output functions to help the elderly using the public transport route search service.

     The Government will offer a subsidy to franchised bus companies to expedite the installation of real-time bus arrival information display panels and seats at suitable sheltered bus stops.

     It is expected that several hundred display panels, as well as seats at over 1,000 suitable bus stops, will be installed within the first phase of around three years.

     Additional chairs or priority seats for the elderly will be provided in existing public facilities such as markets, swimming pools and sports centres.

     More age-friendly design will be incorporated in planning and constructing new public spaces and facilities.

     The Government will also install additional elderly fitness equipment in outdoor leisure venues of the 18 districts, enhance the hardware facilities in public libraries to promote reading among the elderly, and provide equipment suited to the needs of elderly people (including seats and reading aids) in public libraries in phases starting in late 2016.

     The Housing Authority also plans to increase recreational facilities for the elderly in about 100 public rental housing estates with a higher proportion of elderly residents, or change the use or design of public space in these estates to fit the needs of tenants.

     Mr Leung said that additional resources would be provided to DCs in the coming year to promote the building of age-friendly communities at the district level.

Ends/Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:14


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