'Costly' row over social workers
TAXPAYERS' money is being wasted by the Government's refusal to redeploy social workers to deprived areas, legislators said yesterday.
Staff were in many areas that no longer needed their services, they said.
Fifty-four teams of social workers in the Neighbourhood Level Community Development Project are awaiting a decision from the Executive Council on whether it should be phased out.
The project was set up in the 1970s to help deprived and transient communities in temporary housing areas and public housing estates which were affected by redevelopment.
The labour representative, Lee Kai-ming, said the Government had not redeployed staff for about a year since the controversy over whether the programme should be scrapped.
The Democratic Party's Cheung Man-kwong said: 'The applications to send teams to deprived areas will always remain applications since the Government will not deploy social workers.
'It is entirely against the Government's policy to help people in deprived areas.' Party colleague Albert Chan Wai-yip accused the Government of wasting taxpayers' money, saying: 'Now we have social workers serving a few or no people in some areas, but at the same time there are deprived areas with no social workers.' The Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs, Brenda Fung Yue Mui-fun, said the Government would not make a redeployment decision until Exco's decision, which was expected within weeks.
The panel is to write to the Director of Audit, Dominic Chan Yin-tat, to see what resources the Government had wasted because of its refusal to redeploy teams of social workers.