Old age allowance

Old-age allowance will be inflation-adjusted, says welfare chief

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 1:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

The monthly payment and means test for a new old age allowance will be adjusted for inflation as early as February, the welfare chief said on Wednesday morning.

Speaking on a radio programme, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung defended the widely criticised means test for the new HK$2,200 old-age allowance.

To qualify for the plan, a single person cannot have assets of more than HK$186,000, or earn more than HK$6,600 a month. For a couple, the monthly income limit is HK$10,520 and the asset limit HK$281,000.

Cheung said the HK$186,000 cap will probably rise to more than HK$190,000 next year due to inflation. The monthly income cap and dole amount will also rise, he said, providing no figures.

The asset cap will be adjusted for inflation using the Social Security Assistance Index of Prices, which it uses to adjust CSSA welfare payments to reflect changing prices.

“The new subsidy will be like other welfare schemes in using this index,” Cheung said. “So we believe the asset limit for the new special subsidy will rise to over HK$190,000 by February.”

He insisted the means test is necessary to focus public resources on people who are truly needy – despite demands from various political parties and unions that it be shelved for people over age 70.

The new subsidy should not be linked with a universal pension scheme that many lawmakers are promoting, Cheung said.

“The new subsidy and a pension scheme are two completely different things and should not be mixed up.”

[Video by Hedy Bok: "Everyone should receive the old age allowance"]