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Chief Secretary

The Chief Secretary for Administration assists the Chief Executive in supervising the policy bureaux as directed by him and plays a key role in ensuring coordination in policy formulation and implementation.

Community care fund enhances social security system

October 15, 2010

Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang

In his 2010-11 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced the establishment of the Community Care Fund to help the underprivileged and, at the same time, promote a culture of social responsibility and philanthropy in our society. This profoundly demonstrates the theme of the Policy Address - “sharing prosperity for a caring society”.


Under the plan, the Government and the business community will each contribute $5 billion to the fund. We will soon consult relevant stakeholders and work out the modus operandi and implementation details of the fund. I would like to share with you some initial ideas. 


First, why do we need the Community Care Fund?


Over the years, a comprehensive and sophisticated social security system has evolved in Hong Kong. Through direct funding and subsidising non governmental organisations, a strong safety net supports the elderly, vulnerable youngsters, the sick and the poor in society.


However, there will always be some people in need who either fall outside this safety net or have special circumstances that are not covered.


These may include some underprivileged students or senior citizens; they could be chronically ill or disabled people; they could be new arrivals or ethnic minorities, or they could be people in need of support but who do not benefit from any current Government relief measures.


Swift, targeted support

Improvements to our social security system are being made constantly, but they often take time and require broad consensus. The Community Care Fund will be able to provide swift and targeted support, filling a void left by our current system. Better still, it will help create some opportunities for upward mobility for these people, in particular young people.


We also expect that the fund, through its assistance cases, will help the Government identify additional services that should be properly covered under the social security system.


In other words, setting up the fund is by no means an attempt to outsource the Government’s responsibility. Instead, it complements and enhances our social security system.


The operation of the fund will be premised on tripartite co-operation among the community, the business sector and the Government. Social issues and conflicts we are facing cannot be resolved by the Government alone.


Civil societies are rooted in the social responsibilities of individual citizens and stakeholders, jointly and separately giving their best. 


Perhaps more important is the strong belief that all members of our community are in the same boat, steering in the same direction.  Cross-sectoral collaboration helps eliminate distrust or even antagonistic sentiments that stand in the way of stable, balanced development of our society.


Fund operation

The following principles should guide the future operation of the fund:

* Targeted – we need to cut through red tape to ensure that resources go directly to those in need.

* Diverse – the scope of assistance should be as broad as possible. Resources permitting, assistance projects could include special medication, food supply, in-place elderly care, and study needs and support for young people.

* Timely – we should aim for simple and quick vetting procedures without compromising the proper use of funds available.

* Resourceful – apart from contributions from the business sector, we can consider accepting donations from other members of the community in order to exemplify whole community involvement.

* Flexible – although investment income from the Fund will be the main source of funding, the use of capital should not be ruled out for worthy cases.

* Collaborative – for efficient front-line service delivery there should be close communication and co-operation between the Fund and Government agencies/NGOs to avoid duplicating efforts and to facilitate referrals.


Our most immediate tasks will be to, firstly, raise funds from the business sector; and secondly, form a governing committee for the fund and consult stakeholders on the modality of the fund as well as targets and scope of the assistance programme.


Committee membership

The governing committee will be widely represented. It should include Government officials and representatives from sectors including business, professional, social welfare, education, health care and academic. The diversity of its membership will bring valuable expertise, experience and networking advantages to the fund.


I have asked relevant Government bureaux and departments to critically review and identify worthy cases that may have been denied assistance because of current policy restrictions. These will form a basis for the committee’s consideration of the Fund’s operation.


Tripartite collaboration on this scale is unprecedented in Hong Kong. It requires resolve, creativity and a caring heart to find a new path to alleviate poverty. No one should be left out or left behind.


(This was Chief Secretary Henry Tang's article published in local newspapers on October 15.)