DESPITE a double-digit percentage increase in social welfare spending, welfare groups and other critics call the planned expenditure inadequate and disappointing. The Government's spending on social welfare will rise by 13.2 per cent in real terms to $12.95 billion - from $10.53 billion for the previous 12 months. 'On the whole, it seems to be a big increase. But for the needy it's inadequate and fails to help them,' said legislator Hui Yin-fat. Director of the Society for Community Organisations Ho Hei-wah said: 'The improvements are conservative and there are no new initiatives. It is all aimed at old problems without long-term strategy.' He said apart from spending on social security payments, the real amount for social welfare was less than two per cent of the Government's overall expenditure and amounted to little. Social Welfare Department estimates point to a 14.1 per cent increase in expenditure to $12.03 billion (including $639 million from the Lotteries Fund). Among the biggest increases are those for rehabilitation, the elderly and medical services, as well as family and child welfare. Money for services for the elderly is up by 20.1 per cent - from $922 million to $1.1 billion. Family and child welfare services jump by 18.9 per cent to $1.1 billion, and rehabilitation by almost 24 per cent to $960 million. Dr Law Chi-kwong, head of the University of Hong Kong's Department of Social Work and Social Administration, said: 'It seems the increases cover everything. However, it's only in quantity, not in quality. It's just like a mathematics game and many existing community problems still remain unsolved. 'The Government has been urged to improve social services in terms of quantity and quality for years. However, it made no real improvement in quality over the past two years. I'm very disappointed.' Mr Hui said: 'Improvements in many areas are still far from our expectations. The Government should inject more resources to help the needy.' He warned that problems in the territory would snowball if the Government failed to come up with solutions. Mr Ho said the latest estimates suggested the Government had no long-term strategy to tackle new challenges. 'I'm very disappointed the Government has no plan to tackle the influx of about 60,000 new immigrants from China. It's unbelievable,' he said. Mr Ho also criticised the Government's failure to bring in more staff to relieve the heavy workload of social workers. 'I believe the Government has a surplus and they should inject more resources to improve both quantity and quality,' he said.