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Commission on Poverty convenes 27th meeting
      The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, chaired the 27th meeting of the Commission on Poverty (CoP) this afternoon (November 17).
     At the meeting, the CoP noted the implementation progress of the assistance programmes and the financial position of the Community Care Fund (CCF), and endorsed five recommendations on the assistance programmes. Details are as follows:
    (1) The CoP endorsed the launch of the Pilot Scheme on Relocation Allowance for Beneficiaries of Community Housing Movement (CHM) to subsidise low-income households participating in the CHM run by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to pay for relocation expenses. With a provision of $7.22 million, the three-year pilot scheme will commence in this December and is expected to benefit a total of 1 000 households moving into the CHM rental housing units;

     (2) The CoP endorsed the re-launch of the Subsidy for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Recipients Living in Rented Private Housing for two years with adjustments to the mechanism for calculating and disbursing subsidy. Instead of a one-off subsidy of $2,000 (for one-person households) or $4,000 (for two-or-more-person households), a monthly subsidy amounted to either 50 per cent of the actual rent paid in excess of the maximum rent allowance of the CSSA household or 15 per cent of the maximum rent allowance applicable to the households, whichever is the less, will be disbursed. The subsidy will be disbursed annually in one go. This is a fairer approach as the calculation will take into account the actual rent paid by eligible CSSA households. The maximum amount of subsidy will also be increased. The Social Welfare Department will identify eligible CSSA households based on their reported rent records and disburse the first one-off subsidy by the end of January 2018 at the earliest. CSSA households concerned are not required to submit applications. The total provision for re-launching the programme is $119.3 million, and is expected to benefit about 14 000 households each year;

     (3) The CoP agreed to expand the coverage of the Free Cervical Cancer Vaccination Pilot Scheme to include teenage girls, aged 9 to 18, from households benefiting from the Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme / Working Family Allowance Scheme; and female students, aged 9 or above, who receive a half grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme. The pilot scheme will be open for application by the newly added target groups starting from April 2018, and is expected to benefit about 9 990 teenage girls. Additional provision for the scheme is not required for implementing the proposed recommendation. Female students receiving a half grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme who join the pilot scheme will be required to pay $100 per dose of vaccine. The pilot scheme will also be renamed as the Cervical Cancer Vaccination Pilot Scheme;

     (4) The CCF launched in this August the Subsidy for Eligible Patients to Purchase Ultra-expensive Drugs (Including Those for Treating Uncommon Disorders). Eculizumab, a drug to treat paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (aHUS), was first included in the programme. The CoP endorsed the Hospital Authority’s recommendation to include an additional clinical indication for this drug to cover Atypical Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome. Applications will be open at the end of this year. It is expected that in the first 12 months, the total amount of subsidy involved in respect of aHUS patients is estimated to range from $2.82 million to $8.47 million; and

     (5) The CoP took note of the evaluation report on the effectiveness of the Relocation Allowance for Eligible Residents of Sub-divided Units in Industrial Buildings who have to move out as a result of the Buildings Department’s Enforcement Action and endorsed two recommendations of enhancement, namely to expand the coverage of the programme to allow Hong Kong residents under 18, who are holders of a Hong Kong identity card or birth certificate, to apply for and receive the relocation allowance; and to introduce a mechanism to automatically adjust the allowance on an annual basis. Implementation of the enhancement measures will not increase the total provision for the programme. The programme will also be renamed as the Relocation Allowance for Residents of Illegal Domestic Premises in Industrial Buildings who have to move out as a result of the Buildings Department’s Enforcement Action to better reflect the target beneficiaries of the programme.
     Moreover, the CoP was briefed on the poverty statistics and analysis for 2016 produced jointly by the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit and the Census and Statistics Department. The CoP discussed the analysis and noted that the Chief Secretary for Administration would chair a press conference to release the analysis after the meeting. The Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2016 would be uploaded to the CoP’s dedicated website (www.povertyrelief.gov.hk) afterwards.
Ends/Friday, November 17, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:03
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