Social security benefits need to be reined in to prevent claimants who could work from relying on government handouts, a member of Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet warned yesterday. An Executive Councillor, Raymond Ch'ien Kuo-fung, said the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme (CSSA) had been expanding swiftly and posed a serious threat to public finances. A total of $13 billion is expected to be spent on CSSA this year, a 40 per cent increase compared with last year. The Health and Welfare Bureau expects that next year the figure will rise by 15 per cent, standing for a total of $15 billion. 'If we do not take it seriously, public finances will be greatly affected. I think you all know we will inevitably have a deficit not only this year but possibly also next year,' he said after the Exco meeting yesterday. Dr Ch'ien thought that the jobless who were not willing to find jobs should have no right to claim the payments. 'The CSSA is designed for those in need. For people who have job opportunities, we will try to provide them with the incentives to find jobs. 'Society will help them, train them or even find jobs for them. But if they refuse all we offer to them, they should not have the right to continue to claim the payments,' he said. Dr Ch'ien said the payments for these families were too high and the numbers of children who received payments had to be restricted. Up to $12,000 a month is paid to families of four. Dr Ch'ien said the review of CSSA would soon be made public. There were 28,000 claims from the jobless last month, a 70 per cent increase on the same period last year.