Names of homes for the elderly that are unlicensed but funded with public money are being withheld by the Government, triggering outrage among critics. The Social Welfare Department has refused to disclose the names or founding organisations of 31 residential centres for the elderly which are being subsidised by the Government but are operating on certificates of exemption. It is believed that several well-established service providers are included on the list. Critics attacked the department for over-protecting the groups and withholding the information from the public. 'It's trying to avoid embarrassment since they're funded by the Government itself,' said Fok Tin-man, community organiser of the Society for Community Organisation. 'It also fears that the big names will be antagonised after being exposed. 'But if I were a resident, I'd like to know what kind of conditions I was living under. Elderly people have the right to know the conditions of a home before moving in.' Tougher safety rules introduced for homes for the elderly in 1996 should have come into effect this year, but the Government has allowed many homes exemptions. A worker for the elderly in a major organisation said: 'As a social worker, I believe that the information, including the licensing status, the grades and monthly charges, should be given to elderly people and their families.' Alfred Chan Cheung-ming, associate professor in applied social studies at City University said: 'The Government should have such a list and update it every month.' Unlike the private sector, most subsidised homes for the elderly are up to standard in terms of manpower and level of care. But they fall short of the licensing criteria because they were built decades ago, when fire and structural safety standards were less stringent, and have not upgraded facilities. The Social Welfare Department and the Hong Kong Council for Social Service admitted they refrained from disclosing the information to avoid putting pressure on the groups. Cecilia Yuen Kwong Sau-yee, the department's acting chief social work (elderly) officer, said: 'At this stage, we don't want to publish the list.'