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Commission on Poverty convenes the first meeting in this term of Government
     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, chaired the first meeting of the Commission on Poverty (CoP) in this term of Government this afternoon (August 31).
     At the meeting, officials from the Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB) briefed members of the implementation progress of the Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme. The CoP noted that the LWB was conducting a comprehensive policy review on the Scheme, and would formulate recommendations by the end of this year to further enhance the Scheme. The LWB listened to members’ views on the design, effectiveness, impact and operational arrangements of the Scheme, including comments on the application procedures and the effectiveness of the publicity and promotion.
     The CoP also noted the implementation progress of the assistance programmes and the financial position of the Community Care Fund (CCF), as well as the evaluation reports of the Enhanced Programme of Subsidy for Owners' Corporations of Old Buildings and the Pilot Project on Provision of Funding for Ordinary Schools to Arrange Special Educational Needs Coordinators (Pilot Project on SENCOs). The CoP was informed of the regularisation of the Pilot Project on SENCOs from the 2017/18 school year onwards. In addition, the CoP endorsed the extension of the application period of the Pilot Scheme on Providing Subsidy for Higher Disability Allowance Recipients in Paid Employment to Hire Carers (Pilot Scheme) for six months until March 31, 2018 to allow more eligible applicants to apply.  Adjustments to the Pilot Scheme were also made to cater for employment contracts between carers and beneficiaries which have yet to be completed upon the end of the Pilot Scheme.  Relevant beneficiaries will continue to receive the subsidy beyond the period of the Pilot Scheme until the employment contracts approved during the Pilot Scheme come to an end. 
     In addition, members deliberated on the provision of subsidies for using ultra-expensive drugs in treating uncommon disorders. The CoP noted that the Hospital Authority (HA) has been subsidising eligible patients (including those with uncommon disorders) to purchase specified self-financed drugs through the Samaritan Fund (SF) and the First Phase Programme of the CCF Medical Assistance Programmes. The CCF launched a Pilot Scheme this month to subsidise eligible patients to purchase ultra-expensive drugs with reference to the financial assessment criteria for the SF plus an annual contribution cap.  The Pilot Scheme first includes eculizumab, a drug to treat paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria. The HA will conduct a comprehensive review on the Pilot Scheme and the adjusted financial assessment criteria in a timely manner. The HA should continue to listen to the views of different sectors, including patients with uncommon disorders, and will proactively study the feasibility of including ultra-expensive drugs into the safety net of the SF or others.
Ends/Thursday, August 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:11
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