Giveaway rethink to help new arrivals

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am


Up to 40,000 people may benefit from a HK$100 million one-off giveaway proposal from the Community Care Fund after the scheme was expanded to include new immigrants.

The plan aims to dish out at least HK$3,000 each to eligible candidates who miss out on the raft of welfare and relief measures the government provides.

These people are known as 'N-nothings' - a loosely defined group of residents who cannot benefit from any financial help offered in the latest budget because they are not welfare recipients, taxpayers or public housing residents. The budget, announced last month, drew criticism for neglecting the N-nothings.

Among the target beneficiaries of the HK$10 billion government/business fund are tenants of private housing such as subdivided flats or bed spaces.

'We do not differentiate between permanent residents and new immigrants,' Professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun, chairman of the fund's welfare subcommittee, said yesterday. 'This is because many subsidies granted by the government, such as that on electricity tariffs, do not make such a distinction.

'The most important thing is that they are Hong Kong residents.'

The scheme has to be approved by the fund's executive and steering committees, which will meet in May.

Chow estimated that 30,000 to 40,000 people would be covered under the revised proposal, higher than the initial target of 12,000. The subsidy was also changed from HK$2,000 to HK$3,000.

He said the amount was increased after they took into consideration the average rent of private housing, which is HK$1,500 per person based on Census and Statistics Department data.

Applicants should be under the age of 65 and have to pass a means test. A single person stands to receive HK$3,000, a two-member family HK$6,000, and a family of three or more HK$8,000.

The monthly income limits are the same as for public housing: HK$8,740 for a single person and HK$13,410 for a family of two. Their rents should not be more than half of their incomes.

Street sleepers aged 65 or above can also apply. Applications are expected to open in October.

Residents aged 65 or above can apply for another one-off scheme under the fund that gives out HK$4,000 to each elderly person in July.

Lee Tai-shing, community officer of the Concern CSSA Review Alliance, said the rent limit was tough as the rent of subdivided flats had surged recently. He also called for the scheme to be turned into regular welfare.