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Welfare co-operation vital

November 13, 2017

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

The Government is totally committed to building a caring society in Hong Kong. We attach great importance to helping the disadvantaged. For the current financial year, Government spending on welfare will amount to $73.3 billion, which is quite a lot of money, representing 19% of the Government's recurrent expenditure. In other words, for every $100 we spend nowadays, $21.50 goes to education, $19 goes to welfare and $17 goes to medical and health. So we are talking about the number two spending item for the Government.


But the Government's effort alone is not enough. We need community support like Operation Santa Claus. We need tripartite co-operation between the business community, the NGOs as well as the Government. We all work together for the common good.


If you look at the Policy Address for the current term, our theme resembles very much the work of Operation Santa Claus. Our theme is "We Connect for Hope & Happiness". If you look at the Chinese version, it's more elaborated. In Chinese, it means walking hand in hand, embrace hope and share happiness - exactly what you have been doing for the last 30 years, looking after the disadvantaged, particularly young children.


First of all, for (the) elderly, our senior citizens, we are determined to really enhance community and homecare support for senior citizens in need of help. Our target in the long term is to keep waiting time to zero. A very ambitious task, but we must work at it.


For low-income working families, just above the poverty line, we are determined to help them. In fact, we have been revamping the Low-income Working Family Allowance to really significantly improve it, to make it more accessible and friendly for applicants. To quote a very good example; for an (eligible) ordinary married worker in Hong Kong, not on social security, with two (eligible) children, each child will get $1,000 allowance per month and the working father and/or mother will get $1,200. In other words, a family of four will get $3,200 per month on an on-going basis, encouraging employment and at the same time supporting children and encouraging self-reliance as well.


For children, I will be chairing a new children's commission to be set up by the middle of next year to co-ordinate Government efforts and efforts of all child-concern groups to improve and enhance the well-being of children in Hong Kong. So it will be a significant step forward in terms of protecting and enhancing children's welfare. I will be working closely with the Child Development Fund in order to help shape character of children, particularly those in need.


Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the launch ceremony for Operation Santa Claus 2017 on November 13.