Means test 'unfair for ousted squatters'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2002, 12:00am

The Government has been urged to drop public housing means tests for squatters who have their illegal dwellings demolished to make way for redevelopments.

Tam Yiu-chung, a legislator from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said special treatment should be given to residents affected by government clearance and resumption of land.

'A means test creates many problems. Sometimes they [the squatters] don't match the criteria,' Mr Tam said.

'That's why they can't be allocated public rental flats.'

But Joey Lam Kam-ping, Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing, said public housing was not intended as compensation for residents affected by developments.

'If they own land, they can seek compensation according to related regulations,' she said.

While explaining that the Government tried to ensure that no one became homeless because of slum clearances, she said the Public Housing Authority allocated public rental flats according to needs.

Unionist legislator Leung Yiu-chung said the Government should revamp the existing system of compensation by taking the plight of squatters into account.

Meanwhile, the Finance Committee yesterday approved the Health and Welfare Bureau's application for an extra $150 million to meet demand for welfare payments this financial year.

The bureau had argued it might not have enough money to meet a growing demand for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance because of the economic downturn.

A proposal to increase the maximum threshold of allowable earnings to $2,500 a month for single recipients of benefits was also approved and will take effect from March 1.