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Commission on Poverty convenes 18th meeting in its second term

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, chaired the 18th meeting of the Commission on Poverty (CoP) in its second term this afternoon (April 25). The meeting considered the proposals for enhancing the poverty line analytical framework (the framework) and discussed the study on earnings mobility of post-secondary graduates from underprivileged families.

     At the meeting, the Government Economist (GEcon) introduced the proposals for enhancing the framework, including that of incorporating the poverty alleviation impact of public rental housing (PRH) into the main analysis. The proposals were devised by drawing reference to relevant international research and practices, as well as members and stakeholders' views. After thorough discussion, the CoP agreed on the following:

(i) This agenda item was a continuation of the first-term CoP's discussion in 2013, with the purpose of following up on stakeholders and academics' comments on the limitations of the framework, such as defining poverty based on household income only and not incorporating in the framework PRH's poverty alleviation impact;

(ii) The CoP fully acknowledged the diligence and professional analysis of the GEcon and the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) in drawing up the proposals for enhancing the framework. The analysis on the various proposals will facilitate the CoP's future deliberation on relevant issues;

(iii) As a matter of principle, the CoP recognised the important role of PRH in poverty alleviation. Members also took note of the notable difference in the living quality between PRH households and low-income households living in private rental housing. Enhancing the framework will highlight the poverty situation of the low-income households living in private rental housing, which will facilitate deliberation on support measures targeting towards these households;

(iv) The current-term Government has formulated a wide range of policy measures targeting at poor households, such as the Low-income Working Family Allowance to be implemented on May 3 this year. The CoP considered that there is no pressing need to enhance the framework and refine the poverty rates and relevant statistics compiled according to the current framework. The proposals discussed in the meeting today involve technical issues that require further study and discussion. In the long run, the CoP will continue to review the application of the current framework, and explore enhancement proposals and recommendations;

(v) PRH is an important and effective poverty alleviation measure. The CoP suggested that the Government should continue to implement the PRH policy vigorously, publicise the important role of PRH in improving the livelihood of the grassroots, and strive for public support for Government's efforts in increasing the PRH supply. The effectiveness of PRH in poverty alleviation will continue to be included as supplementary reference in the 2015 Poverty Situation Report; and

(vi) The CoP took note that the C&SD will release the results of the 2014/15 Household Expenditure Survey in the second quarter of this year. Members agreed to produce an additional poverty line on expenditure for reference in the 2015 Poverty Situation Report to compare poverty situations defined in terms of household income and expenditure. Households that are poor in terms of both income and expenditure can then be identified. This enables poverty alleviation policies to better focus on those most in need. In addition, members agreed to conduct additional analysis of poverty situation by the age of household heads so as to better gauge the poverty situation of the elderly.

     In addition, members noted the findings of the 2015 Study on Earnings Mobility (the Study) prepared by the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit in the fourth quarter of last year. The Study, the fourth of similar studies in recent years, aims at analysing the earnings mobility of post-secondary graduates from grassroots families in Hong Kong. The target group of the Study comprises sub-degree or below graduates (but above secondary education), first degree graduates and postgraduates in the 2001/02, 2006/07 and 2011/12 academic years that had received means-tested student finance. Through analysing the employment income data provided by the Inland Revenue Department, the Study looked into the earnings mobility of graduates from different cohorts and academic qualifications. The Study also analysed the correlation between earnings mobility and graduates' gender, discipline of study and family background. Based on the study results, the Youth Education, Employment and Training Task Force under the CoP will continue to explore measures which are conducive to youth upward mobility. The CoP will arrange to publish the Study shortly.

Ends/Monday, April 25, 2016
Issued at HKT 22:06


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