EVERY month Chan Chi-sai, 78, receives a cheque for $2,460 from the Social Welfare Department (SWD). Surviving on an amount which Secretary for Health and Welfare Katherine Fok Lo Shiu-ching might spend over a working lunch takes some ingenuity. Before Mr Chan begins to wonder how to feed himself, he must pay $650 to rent a bed in a small apartment shared with five others in Wan Chai. Though the consumption of electricity, water supplies and telephone is included in the rent, this leaves him with $1,810, or about $60 a day. 'I have to limit my daily expenditure to $60,' said Mr Chan, who suffers from a leg injury as well as stomach complaints. 'But breakfast costs me more than $10.' To keep his strength up, Mr Chan eats yum cha every morning in the same restaurant because it is cheaper than any other. However, for lunch and dinner he must cook his meals from groceries he buys in markets. Mr Chan's meals usually consist of vegetables and fish or chicken wings. 'I go back to my homeland in Guangdong to live with my son and daughter-in-law once every two months to save more money,' said Mr Chan, who has received public assistance since August last year. Spending a few weeks in China saves him hundreds of dollars. He has almost no entertainment, except paying visits to his nephew in Tsuen Wan a few times a month. 'I seldom have fruit and I just have soup twice a month.' The Social Welfare Department presumes public assistance recipients need not spend anything to see doctors because they are entitled to free medical treatment in public hospitals and clinics. However, Mr Chan spent $600 to see private doctors for flu and stomach complaints last month, as well as $100 a month for a pills to relieve his stomach problems. He said doctors at government clinics did not pay much attention to him so he chose to live harder to save money to see a better doctor. 'I only wish the Government could give me $10 more a day, so that I could have soup more frequently,' he said. Sun Sai-yuen, 73, and his wife, Kung Wai-ying, 74, have received monthly assistance of $3,005 since 1993. 'We can't eat vegetables now as they're too expensive,' said Mrs Sun. 'We can only afford bean curd and we seldom have soup.' Mrs Sun has her hair cut three times a year in a centre for the elderly, where it costs only $20 a time. She has heart problems and spends $300 a month on medicine. The couple used to be members of an elderly people's centre, but they said they could not afford to join the activities. 'It costs $140 each for a camp,' Mrs Sun said. 'How can we afford it?' Her husband said they usually stayed at home. Mr and Mrs Sun own the apartment they live in, but they have to share the building's maintenance costs with neighbours. 'Last time, we could not pay the $900 for maintenance and our neighbours have teased us about it,' Mrs Sun said.