Subsidy to help severely handicapped in Hong Kong

Aim is to assist those living in the community and not having access to expensive machinery

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 4:44am

People who have a severe physical handicap and need to rent medical equipment will receive a year-long subsidy of HK$2,000 to HK$2,500 a month from a trust fund, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.

The subsidy, which will draw HK$12 million from the Community Care Fund, is expected to benefit 400 people.

It is in addition to the Social Welfare Department's higher disability allowance - which began in February to give eligible individuals HK$2,790 a month - and the fund's own year-long special care subsidy, which offers HK$2,000 a month.

"If we put the three subsidies together, then this group of people can receive HK$7,290 a month for their daily needs," Lam, who chairs the trust, said yesterday after a meeting of the steering committee.

The scheme aims to help severely disabled people under the age of 60 who do not get Comprehensive Social Security Assistance. Recipients must be living in the community instead of a medical institution, meaning they have to rent expensive equipment such as ventilators.

Yesterday's meeting was the last before the transfer of the two-year-old fund to the Commission on Poverty, which was revived this month after being dismantled in 2007.

The fund will be run by a team led by its executive committee chairman, Dr Lau Chi-kwong.

Willy Law Wai-cheung, vice-chairman of the Direction Association for the Handicapped, welcomed the new subsidy, but he added: "The subsidy period is too short, because the physically disabled have to rely on medical equipment not just for a year, but for life."

The fund, underwritten by the government, was set up in October 2010 with a goal of attracting HK$5 billion in donations from businesses to cover welfare gaps.

With the new subsidy, it now runs 18 aid schemes. Donors have pledged HK$1.8 billion, and so far HK$50 million has been received. The government also recently injected HK$5 billion into the fund.