About 25 children held a protest against welfare cuts outside the Social Welfare Department headquarters in Wan Chai yesterday, but seemed confused about their mission. The young protesters were chanting slogans such as 'Senior officials know nothing about the community's difficulties and ignore children's welfare', but became jubilant when department officials came out and handed them bags of elegantly wrapped Lunar New Year gifts, including stationery, towels and scarves. The youngsters, aged between 6 and 13, only started chanting again when Sze Lai-shan, from the Society for Community Organisation, scolded: 'We are not here to get gifts today!' Then several of the children's parents, standing off to one side, also urged them to start protesting again. One of the children, who refused to give his name, admitted that he did not know the purpose of his visit. 'My father asked me to join,' he said. The demonstration against the 11.1 per cent cut to Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) payments was organised by the society, which said the reduction had led to 'malnutrition, difficulties in pursuing studies, low self-esteem and child-labour problems'. It said the cuts affected as many as 100,000 children. Assistant Director of Social Welfare Rachel Cartland emerged to talk with the children and their parents, but they failed to reach a consensus. Ms Sze admitted she was disappointed. 'The official refused to acknowledge that these problems are common among CSSA families and the cut in welfare has deprived children of learning opportunities,' she said. A spokesman for the Social Welfare Department said: 'Many of those who came here today have family problems. Some of them are on two-way permits and some are single parents.'