Commission on Poverty convenes 29th meeting

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, chaired the 29th meeting of the Commission on Poverty (CoP) this afternoon (April 23).
     At the meeting, the CoP noted the implementation progress of the assistance programmes and the financial position of the Community Care Fund (CCF), as well as considered the evaluation report of the Subsidy for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Recipients Living in Rented Private Housing programme. The programme was extended in 2016. By September 2017 when the extended programme concluded, a total of 15 458 eligible Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) households were granted subsidy. A random sample survey indicated that most interviewees are satisfied with the arrangement and the effectiveness of the programme. They also considered that the programme would help alleviate the burden of housing expenditure in times of rental increase. The programme was re-launched in November 2017 for a two-year period and adjustments to the approach to calculate and disburse subsidy were made. Since January 2018, the Social Welfare Department has begun disbursing to eligible households the one-off subsidy for the first year.
     The CoP also endorsed a new assistance programme for provision of subsidy to primary and secondary students in need to purchase mobile computer devices to practise e-Learning. It will be launched in the 2018/19 academic year for a three-year period. Target beneficiaries are students attending public primary and secondary schools and receiving CSSA or full/half-grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme (STAS). The schools and classes attended by eligible students should have been implementing e-learning and encouraging students to bring their own mobile computing devices. The first-year subsidy for CSSA and STAS full-grant student recipients is capped at $4,500 and that for STAS half-grant students is capped at $2,250. The subsidy will be disbursed to schools for purchasing the devices for students. The programme is expected to cost $415.54 million and benefit about 102 000 eligible students.
     Members were also briefed by relevant government officials on measures for poverty alleviation, care for the elderly and support for the disadvantaged in the 2018-19 Budget. They noted that in addition to financial resources provided for implementing initiatives announced in the Chief Executive’s Policy Address, the Budget also makes good use of the surplus to launch more measures to benefit different underprivileged groups including enhancing the support for children with special needs, ethnic minorities, and patients with financial needs and the elderly; facilitating youth upward mobility; enhancing retirement protection; and providing additional cash assistance.
     Separately, the current term of the CoP will expire on June 30 this year. At the meeting, members provided advice on the future work direction of CoP with a view to continuing its role as a policy deliberation platform to underpin the current-term Government’s vision of poverty alleviation. The CoP Secretariat will continue to follow up on the preparatory work for the next term of CoP and will announce relevant details in due course.

Ends/Monday, April 23, 2018
Issued at HKT 18:46