Activists set to take up 'unfair' cuts with UN

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 December, 1998, 12:00am

Community organisations will complain to the United Nations about the 'irrational and unfair' welfare cuts proposed yesterday.

The cuts, affecting mainly single mothers and women running households, would be outlined to the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Ho Hei-wah, head of the Society for Community Organisation, said.

'The Government is trying to shift the focus for the unemployment problem because they lack any ability to deal with it,' Mr Ho said.

'The Government officials' blood is much colder than the weather. They have an $800 billion surplus and they were pumping how much to the big tycoons?' He said the CSSA income level had been set to meet basic needs and any cut could not be justified. He also attacked the lack of consultation before the Government announced the welfare cutbacks.

'We are all in the dark. We knew nothing - nothing about the scale, the process, the review . . . the whole thing is irrational and unfair.' Hardship and pressure on charities would result from the cuts during this time of crisis, said the Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission.

'It's quite unreasonable. The Government spent so much money to support the property market and the stock market but not on social welfare,' Mary Yuen Mee-yin said.

'Of course this will create more problems - these families are in need, and many agencies do not have enough money already,' Ms Yuen said.

The Single Parents' Association also condemned the lack of community consultation.

'There was no information before this report, so we could not prepare and educate these families,' chief executive Jessie Yu Sau-chu said.

She said single parents with children over 12 would end up just switching to unemployment benefits because of the poor economic climate for the unskilled.

'The Government should be trying to get them off the CSSA, not just cut down on what they are receiving - this is what we have been saying, we need education and more skills.' However, social work Professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun said the cuts were aimed at getting people off benefits.

'At the moment, a family can earn more on CSSA than by working, it is no longer regarded as a last defence. The rate of allowance makes it quite obvious this is a choice or an alternative,' Professor Chow said.