POOR families with elderly relatives, single parents, the sick and the unemployed will be given more financial assistance under benefits announced yesterday. But the new pledges failed to please welfare groups, who branded the increases of up to several hundred dollars per recipient 'a shame'. They said the amounts were 'insufficient to help anyone live in dignity'. They were also angry that other vulnerable groups such as the single elderly, children, and the disabled were excluded from more assistance. Rehabilitation groups were disappointed Mr Patten had failed to promise improvements to services for the handicapped. They feared the Government had changed its attitude towards helping the disabled. Mr Patten said $300 million would be spent to raise the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) payments for 52,000 needy people from the next financial year. Single parents and family carers will have their standard rates increased by 54 per cent, from $1,045 to $1,605 per month; The rate for elderly people living with their family will rise 12 per cent from $1,505 to $1,685; Payments to ill adults living alone will increase by 46 per cent from $1,210 to $1,770, and to those living with family by 53 per cent from $1,045 to $1,605; Jobless people actively seeking work will get 23 or 27 per cent more. They will receive $1,490 instead of $1,210 for a single adult, or $1,325 instead of $1,045, if living in a family. Mr Patten said the increases were based on initial findings of an in-depth study of the scheme. The Household Expenditure Survey, which draws information from 7,400 households, found benefits to some people were inadequate. 'Some rates are too low and some members of the community are suffering today from genuine financial hardship,' said Mr Patten. 'Their standard rates of CSSA benefits are significantly below the spending levels of equivalent categories of people in the lowest five per cent income group.' Hui Yin-fat, director of Hong Kong Council of Social Service, said he doubted the sincerity of Mr Patten in helping the needy. 'We should all feel ashamed needy people will be given only several hundred dollars more a month despite the Government's surplus budget,' he said. 'What's worse, the increase will be effective only from April next year. So it will mean that needy people will have to continue suffering. Is that what a responsible government should do?' he said. Ng Wai-tung, a spokesman for the Elderly Rights League, said the new benefits were window dressing and would benefit very few. Single parent and unemployed families, said Mr Ng, made up less than 20 per cent of CSSA recipients. 'The Government is helping people very selectively, and intentionally overlooking the elderly who make up about 70 per cent of the total CSSA recipients. Most of them are living alone. 'These people need help the most but they will not get extra money,' he said. The Government did not suggest increases in payments for the single elderly, children or people with a disability because it found standard rates for such people were generally above the spending levels in the poorest income group. It promises important changes throughout the system will be considered. A CSSA review is to be finished early next year.