Old-age allowance

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung recently announced that a poverty line would be defined by the end of the year. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Getting facts on poverty is crucial first step

Governments need facts and figures to do the job of governing properly. Hong Kong's lack of an officially recognised poverty line has meant that the poor are prone to fall through cracks in our welfare system. One of our most respected NGOs, the Council of Social Service, contends that one in three elderly people are now needy, putting the number for the first time over 300,000. The figures are shocking for a city so wealthy, but in the absence of official recognition, they are little more than a disturbing statistic.