$16m may be recalled
AGENCIES running sub-vented homes for the elderly may be asked to pay back the extra $16 million they received after public assistance levels were raised at the beginning of this month.
The Social Welfare Advisory Committee (SWAC) wants the Government to raise the matter with agencies, said committee chairman Li Ka-cheung.
Five of SWAC's 10 members yesterday voted in favour of asking the agencies to return the money so that it could be put directly into the pockets of their elderly residents.
However, four members were reluctant to interfere with the existing system because of the potential administrative tangle, and one member abstained.
Mr Li said that although the issue involved only about $30 per elderly person, some SWAC members felt a principle was at stake - Governor Chris Patten's promise last October that the new Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme would be a real improvement for recipients.
Mr Li said that under a 13-year agreement between the Government and sub-vented agencies operating homes, day-care centres or home-help services, fees were pegged to a percentage of public assistance levels.