Govt to improve elderly grant

October 6, 2021

(To watch the 2021 Policy Address speech with sign language interpretation, click here.)


The Government will merge the normal Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) and the higher one in the second half of next year to provide more support for eligible senior citizens, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced today.


In her 2021 Policy Address, Mrs Lam pointed out that the Government's recurrent expenditure on social welfare has significantly increased from $65.3 billion in 2017-18 to $105.7 billion in 2021-22, a surge of 62% over four years.


It has become the biggest expenditure area, accounting for about 20% of overall recurrent expenditure.


In the face of the uncertainties in the economic outlook and serious fiscal deficits, the Government will focus on the implementation of planned policy initiatives in the year ahead and review their effectiveness from time to time to ensure that needy citizens can benefit.


The Chief Executive explained that the Government's poverty alleviation strategies will focus on four areas in future, including the combination of the normal OALA and the higher one.


After that, more lenient asset limits of the normal OALA will be adopted across the board and eligible applicants will receive payment at the higher OALA rate.


The Government will also provide training and retraining for citizens to encourage employment and offer financial support for working households with lower incomes, particularly those with children, through the Working Family Allowance Scheme.


It will also vigorously speed up public rental housing (PRH) construction, build more transitional housing units, and provide cash allowances to eligible PRH applicants who have been waiting for the flats for more than three years.


As for the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) retirement protection, Mrs Lam said it will be strengthened, with abolishing the offsetting arrangement as the priority task. The Government will introduce legal amendments in the next legislative year.


Meanwhile, it will endeavour to lower the MPF's management cost by implementing the eMPF Platform at full steam and put in place the measure of the Government paying MPF contributions for low-income workers.


The Government will also explore ways to better encourage the public to convert their one-off assets under the MPF into an annuity which they can receive on a regular basis after retirement so as to provide a steady income for the elderly.


Better welfare services

Mrs Lam noted that the Government will increase day care and home care service places to enable senior citizens and people with disabilities to age in place and live with their families.


To facilitate those retired on the Mainland, it will explore the extension of the Residential Care Services Scheme in Guangdong to cover other eligible residential care homes for the elderly in Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.


The relaxation of the one-year continuous residence in Hong Kong requirement regarding applications for the OALA and the Old Age Allowance will also be considered.


On pro-child efforts, the Chief Executive said the Government will focus on two areas in the coming year.


One is the legislative work on mandatory reporting for child abuse cases. The Government is formulating a legislative proposal to establish a mandatory reporting mechanism on these cases. Training for practitioners in relevant professions to identify such cases will also be enhanced.


The Government's goal is to introduce the relevant bill to the next-term Legislative Council for scrutiny as soon as possible.


Additionally, the number of places of the On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services will be increased from 9,000 this year to 10,000 in the 2022-23 school year.


Mrs Lam said that with the gradual increase of service places, the policy objective of zero-waiting time could be achieved in the foreseeable future.

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