POVERTY alleviation measures have been inadequate, the welfare minister has admitted, as the number of people living below the poverty line has risen to the highest point in seven years.
This came as 300 protesters demanded universal retirement protection for the elderly, and the Society for Community Organisation (SoCo, 社區組織協會) asked for more support for poor children.
Latest official figures showed that 1.35 million people were living in poverty in 2016, the highest since the study started in 2009. Even after government intervention, some 996,000 remained in poverty.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Law Chi-kwong (羅致光), said the anti-poverty measures have been ineffective. He said the old-age living allowance will be increased to HK$3,435 a month next year. But Law said these new welfare measures would only lower the elderly poverty population by 1 or 2 percent. In 2016, more than 30 percent of those aged 65 years or above lived below the poverty line.
Meanwhile, the low-income working family allowance has only benefited 30,000 families, much lower than the forecast of 200,000 families, Law noted.
Law said implementation of the scheme was not rigorous enough, which is why so many still lived below the poverty line.
Separately, SoCO interviewed families that received the low-income allowance and found most of them spent the allowance on tutorial classes for their children, while those who lived in private properties used the allowance on rent.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 27 November 2017)
SoCo press releases
Commission on Poverty