Jobless scheme saved $880m, study finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2001, 12:00am

A programme forcing unemployed people on the dole actively to look for work has saved the Government an estimated $880 million since it was introduced, a study found.

A Social Welfare Department study of the programme released yesterday found that the Support for Self-reliance Scheme had played a major role in helping people return to work.

Since the scheme was launched in June 1999, the number of unemployed seeking Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) has dropped by nearly 30 per cent - from a peak of 32,435 in May 1999 to 23,364 last January.

The study said the CSSA had saved an estimated $880 million because of people moving off the welfare payroll.

Under the scheme, unemployed social security recipients are required to look for at least two jobs every two weeks, draw up a plan and keep a diary. They are also required to report back to department officials every two weeks, as well as take part in community work programmes.

Between June 1999 and November last year, a total of 29,714 jobless were enrolled in the scheme, with 12,334 de-registered from it. Reasons for leaving included securing a job (26 per cent); withdrawing application for unemployment benefits (24 per cent); and losing contact with the system (24 per cent).

The report, to be discussed by the Legco panel on welfare services on Monday, proposes widening the scheme to help the jobless. 'We can reasonably conclude that the scheme has played a useful role in assisting the unemployment recipients in their job search,' the paper said.