LCQ11: Traffic Accident Victims Assistance Scheme
The Traffic Accident Victims Assistance (TAVA) Scheme aims to provide victims of road traffic accidents or their dependents with speedy financial assistance. The number of applications under the TAVA Scheme has been on the increase, rising from 8 419 in 2017-2018 to 10 500 in 2021-2022. It has been reported that some of the applications under the TAVA Scheme involve elements such as falsification, exaggeration and fraud. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has looked into the reasons behind the increase in the number of applications under the TAVA Scheme, including whether traffic accidents deliberately created to obtain assistance were involved; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it will review if the eligibility criteria for the TAVA Scheme are too lax; and
(3) whether the Police mounted any law enforcement operations in the past five years to combat TAVA Scheme frauds; if so, of the number of persons arrested; whether the Government has conducted any review to identify ways to eradicate such frauds?
The Traffic Accident Victims Assistance (TAVA) Scheme is a social welfare initiative administered by the Social Welfare Department (SWD). The objective of the TAVA Scheme is to provide speedy financial assistance to road traffic accident victims or the surviving dependents of deceased traffic accident victims on a non-means-tested basis, regardless of the element of fault leading to the occurrence of the accident.
In response to the question raised, in consultation with the Security Bureau, my consolidated reply is as follows:
To achieve the objective of the TAVA Scheme to support traffic accident victims, an applicant must meet the following conditions to be eligible for assistance payment, including:
(1) The accident must have been reported to the Police and determined by the Police as a road traffic accident; and
(2) The victim is injured or killed in the accident. In case of injury, the injured victim must be certified by a registered doctor that such injury requires hospitalisation of no less than three days or issued with proof for medical leave of no less than three days.
The number of applications the TAVA Scheme received hinges on many factors. Apart from the number of traffic casualties, the public's increasing awareness towards the availability of the TAVA Scheme is also one of the reasons accounting for the increasing number of applications. For every application received, the SWD will seek written confirmation from the Police on whether traffic accident is involved. When processing applications, the SWD will clearly explain to the applicant that obtaining assistance payment by deception is a criminal offence. Apart from losing the eligibility for assistance, the applicant may be prosecuted under the Theft Ordinance (Cap. 210) and be liable on conviction to imprisonment of a maximum of 14 years.
To guard against abuse and fraud, the SWD maintains close liaison with the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health to ensure the injuries sustained by the applicants are related to the traffic accidents concerned. The SWD will also refer suspected cases to the Police for investigation. The SWD has reviewed different aspects of its work, including strengthening the vetting of income proof in processing the applications for the interim maintenance grant under the TAVA Scheme. Besides, the SWD has enhanced the workflow by strengthening the verification on whether the applicants have made any claim for damages or compensation through other means for the same traffic accident and advancing the notification in writing to insurance companies at the disbursement of the first payment to avoid double compensation.
The SWD will continue to monitor the implementation of the TAVA Scheme. Any person (including insurance companies) who possesses information about improper or illegal activities by any person in applying for assistance under the TAVA Scheme may lodge a report to the SWD or the Police.
The Police do not maintain a breakdown on the number of deception cases in relation to the TAVA Scheme.
Ends/Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:05
Issued at HKT 11:05