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LCQ22: Single parent CSSA cases involving maintenance payments
     Following is a question by the Hon Shiu Ka-chun and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):

Question :

     Some single parents who are concurrently receiving maintenance payments and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) payments have relayed to me that since the Social Welfare Department (SWD) regards maintenance payments as household income, SWD makes a deduction of maintenance payments when calculating the amounts of CSSA payments payable to them. Moreover, in the event of a default in maintenance payment, SWD will grant them advance payments only after they have applied to the court for an Attachment of Income Order for the purpose of recovering the arrears of maintenance payments from the maintenance payers. As the procedure for granting such advance payments takes quite a long while, they often fall into financial difficulties for a period of time. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of CSSA single-parent families which concurrently received maintenance payments in each year from 2011 to 2015; the current monthly average and median amounts of maintenance payments received by such families;

(2) from 2011 to 2015, (i) of the number of CSSA single-parent families which were granted advance payments by SWD due to default in maintenance payments, and (ii) the average time taken from applications for an Attachment of Income Order made to the court by the single parents concerned to their being granted advance payments by SWD; and

(3) whether SWD will review its current practice of deducting maintenance payments when calculating the amounts of CSSA payments payable to CSSA single-parent families, so as to avoid such families falling into financial difficulties during the period when they are owed maintenance payments; if SWD will not, of the reasons for that?

Reply :


     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Shiu Ka-chun is as follows:

(1) The number of single parent Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) cases involving maintenance payments from 2011 to 2015, and the average monthly maintenance payments involved were as follows:
Year (Note 1) Number of cases (Note 2) Average amount of maintenance payments per month (Note 2)
2011 2 258 1,500
2012 2 321 1,500
2013 2 446 1,500
2014 2 690 1,600
2015 2 783 1,700

Note 1: The number of cases and average amount of maintenance payments refer to the position in December of the respective year.
Note 2: Excluding cases involving nominal amount of maintenance payments equivalent to no more than $1 a month.

(2) and (3) In assessing the amount of CSSA payments to be granted to a CSSA recipient, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) will first assess his/her recognised needs. If an applicant has assessable income (including maintenance payments), the CSSA payments will be suitably deducted.
     In handling CSSA cases involving default in maintenance payments, SWD will not reduce or stop CSSA payments until the maintenance payments have been successfully recovered by the relevant recipients. However, the recipients should indicate to SWD their intention to take action in filing claims for maintenance payments. After the recipients have successfully recovered their maintenance payments, SWD will discuss with them whether there is a need to adjust their CSSA payments having regard to individual circumstances.

     SWD does not have the information on the number of CSSA cases involving default in maintenance payments.
Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:39
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