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LCQ19: Employment support provided to persons with disabilities
     Following is a question by the Hon Holden Chow and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Stephen Sui, in the Legislative Council today (March 22):


     According to the statistics for 2013, after the Government's recurrent cash policy intervention, the poor population with disabilities was 147 400 and the poverty rate of persons with disabilities (PWDs) was 29.5 per cent (which was more than double the overall poverty rate of 14.5 per cent). In addition, a social welfare organisation has pointed out that since the expenditures incurred by PWDs on areas such as healthcare, transport (including the need to be accompanied by carers when going out) are generally higher than able-bodied persons, the actual poverty situation of PWDs may be even worse than that shown by the poverty rate; and the Government should strengthen the employment support provided to PWDs to help them get out of poverty. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that in comparison with small and medium-sized enterprises, large enterprises are in a better position to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities by providing employment opportunities for PWDs, whether the Government will consider enacting legislation to make it mandatory for large enterprises to employ a certain percentage or number of PWDs; and

(2) whether it has studied the introduction of new policies and measures (e.g. providing subsidies and allowances) to help or encourage PWDs to secure employment so as to improve their poverty situation?



     My reply to the two parts of the Hon Holden Chow's question is as follows:

(1) The Government's policy objectives are to provide skill training and support services for persons with disabilities (PWDs) so that they can take up productive and gainful employment in the open market on the basis of their abilities rather than disabilities; to provide assistance for employers and to strive to promote an inclusive society. Enacting legislation to make it mandatory for large enterprises to employ a certain percentage or number of PWDs may create a negative labelling effect, which is not conducive to the integration of PWDs into the community. The Government has no plan at this stage to introduce a mandatory employment quota system for PWDs, and will continue to implement multi-pronged measures proactively to promote employment of PWDs, with a view to enhancing PWDs' abilities on one hand; and encouraging employers to employ PWDs and promoting an inclusive society on the other.

(2) The Government is committed to promoting employment of PWDs. The measures taken include providing vocational rehabilitation and training services as well as job matching services in the open market for PWDs, offering financial incentives to employers and setting up social enterprises. To further encourage employment of PWDs, the Government introduced three pilot schemes in 2016: raising the maximum level of disregarded earnings for disabled recipients under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme from $2,500 to $4,000 per month; providing an additional monthly subsidy of $5,000 for Higher Disability Allowance recipients who are in paid employment and have met other requirements such as income limit, so as to enable them to hire carers to assist them in travelling between their home and workplace and carrying out activities in their workplace; and engaging a non-governmental welfare organisation by the Labour Department to offer professional psychological and emotional counselling services for job seekers with disabilities in need, so as to alleviate their emotional problems arising from their disabilities or personal/family issues, and help them concentrate on job search and settle down in their new jobs as soon as possible.

     Furthermore, the Government will inject an additional funding of $100 million into the Enhancing Employment of People with Disabilities through Small Enterprise Project in 2017-18, and increase the maximum funding support per business from $2 million to $3 million, which will be used as start-up capital and operating fund for the first three years. The monitoring period will also be extended from five years to six years, with a view to encouraging non-governmental organisations to set up social enterprises for creating more employment opportunities for PWDs.

     The Labour and Welfare Bureau will continue to take forward the Talent-Wise Employment Charter and Inclusive Organisations Recognition Scheme (the Scheme) to mobilise the Government, public bodies and the private sector to make joint efforts to further promote employment of PWDs through participation in the Scheme. Under the Scheme, a participating organisation will devise a host of sustainable measures commensurate with its mode of operation and strive for effective implementation of these measures.
Ends/Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:22
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