LCQ10: Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (June 29):

Question :

     In April this year, the Government rolled out the Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) Scheme with an aim to relieve the financial burden of working-poor households.  The eligibility criteria include: a family consisting of two or more members, the applicant meeting the working hour requirements and the family meeting the income and asset limits.  Implemented in three phases, the LIFA Scheme received/will receive applications from four-person, three-person and two-person families in May, June and July this year respectively.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the following since the launch of the LIFA Scheme:

(1) the total number of applications received by the authorities;

(2) the number of applications received by the authorities from the ethnic minorities (EMs), and the number of interpreters arranged to help EMs complete the application forms;

(3) the respective numbers of applications received by the authorities from families with four persons or more and families with three persons; among such applications, the number and percentage of applications approved, with a breakdown by the applicant's gender, age, household size, residential district, industry in which they were engaged, employment pattern, monthly wage level and amount of allowance granted; and

(4) the number of applications rejected by the authorities; among such applications, the respective numbers of those from families with four persons or more and families with three persons, and set out a breakdown by reason for rejection in tables of the same format as the following table?

Rejected applications from families with____persons

Reasons for rejecting                  Number of
the applications                       applications
------------------                     -----------
The household asset has
exceeded the limit

The household income has
exceeded the limit

Family members' days of absence from
Hong Kong have exceeded the limit

The applicant has failed to provide
the necessary information

The applicant is not lawfully employed
or self-employed

The applicant works less than
144 hours per month

The applicant has already received
household-based Work Incentive
Transport Subsidy




     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung is as follows:

(1) Since the implementation of the Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) Scheme on May 3, 2016 and up to June 24, 2016, the Working Family Allowance Office (WFAO) of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency received 20 876 applications.

(2) As of June 24, 2016, based on preliminary vetting, there were over 470 applications from families of ethnic minorities (EMs).

     To help EMs apply for LIFA, WFAO now hires interpretation service and collaborates with non-governmental organisations which support the EMs.  EM applicants are provided with interpretation services to help them fill in application forms.

     Since the application forms for the LIFA Scheme began to be made available in April 2016, WFAO has organised 11 briefing sessions with simultaneous interpretation services for EMs to introduce the Scheme and explain to them how to complete the application forms.  On-site service was also provided to help participants fill in the application forms and answer their questions.  Moreover, WFAO has collaborated with various non-governmental organisations/ bodies/ district organisations in organising six enquiry sessions with interpretation service.

     In addition, WFAO has enlisted the assistance of the Centre for Harmony and Enhancement of Ethnic Minority Residents (CHEER) to handle telephone enquiries made in EM languages.  Calls of enquirers who select languages other than Cantonese, Putonghua and English will be transferred to CHEER whose staff will answer general enquiries from EMs on the LIFA Scheme.  When the enquiries relate to more detailed questions, WFAO and CHEER will arrange a three-way telephone interpretation service so that WFAO can explain the LIFA applications to EM enquirers.  EM applicants who visit the enquiry counter of WFAO may also make use of the telephone interpretation service provided by CHEER to enquire about matters of the LIFA Scheme if they have difficulty in communicating with the staff of WFAO.

(3) Among the applications received as of June 24, 2016, there were more than 15 500 from families with four or more persons, nearly 5 200 from families with three persons and more than 150 from families with two persons.

     As of June 24, 2016, WFAO has completed processing 462 applications from families with 4 or more persons with sufficient information and documentary proof.  This accounts for 3 per cent of the applications from families with four or more persons received.  WFAO will continue to work hard to process other applications, including conducting data matching with relevant departments and seeking supplementary information or further clarifications from the applicants.  The detailed analysis of the 462 approved applications is at the Annex.

(4) As of June 24, 2016, no application had been rejected.

Ends/Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:41