People in dire need

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 June, 2012, 12:00am


More than half of Hongkongers who live on welfare cannot afford some basic necessities.

That's according to a study by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.

'We have a social safety net, but it's full of holes,' said council chief Christine Fang Meng-sang. She urged the government to increase Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments.

The council's study was conducted last year. It found 57 per cent of welfare recipients lack such basics as a safe living environment and fresh fruit at least once a week.

About 60 per cent face serious social exclusion. They may have nobody to take care of them when they fall ill. They may not find anybody to lend them HK$3,000 in an emergency.

'[Welfare] only keeps people from starving, but it's not helping them escape poverty,' said council business director Chua Hoi-wai.

The report said 75 per cent of welfare recipients in private housing faced serious problems, while 53 per cent in public housing did so.

Poor people in private flats were 11 times more likely to feel unsafe than those in public flats. They were far more likely to feel their living space was too small and cramped.

'We can see that once people are given public housing, deprivations in their living condition are much improved,' said Chinese University associate professor Wong Hung.