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Donald Tsang

Renovation grants for poor elderly available mid-year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 March, 2008, 12:00am

Home-renovation subsidies for elderly people on low incomes, announced in the chief executive's policy address in October, will be available from mid-year.

Those eligible will be entitled to claim up to HK$5,000, regardless of how old their home is, or whether they own or rent it. Single people over 60 with incomes of HK$5,910 a month or less, and couples over 60 with income of HK$9,740 a month, can apply regardless of the assets they hold, the government said after a meeting yesterday of the Elderly Commission.

Carol Yip Man-kuen, deputy secretary for labour and welfare, said district community centres would handle applications. Arrangements were being worked out.

In his policy address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced one-off funding of HK$200 million over five years to help improve the homes of elderly people on low incomes.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, in his budget speech last week, announced the subsidy cap of HK$5,000 and said he expected about 40,000 households to benefit.

'The main targets of this measure are the elderly people, especially those living alone, in dilapidated homes with poor fittings. [The] elderly in need will be provided with minor home-maintenance and improvement services as well as the necessary fittings according to their home environment,' he said.

Ms Yip said the subsidies could, for example, help needy applicants replace floor tiles with anti-slip ones.

Iman Fok Tin-man, community organiser of the Society for Community Organisation, welcomed the government's proposal and the criteria for applicants.

'It is great ... I hope social enterprises specialising in maintenance will be hired to do the job so as to promote mutual help in the community,' she said.

Ms Fok said although social enterprises would probably charge similar maintenance fees to private companies, they would provide better follow-up services and take care of the needs of the elderly.

Grace Chan Man-yee, of the Council of Social Service, said the government should draft rules to stop landlords ending the tenancies of elderly people who use the subsidy to improve their homes.

She suggested landlords be required to repay the subsidies if they forced elderly tenants to move out soon after work was done.