Social workers have failed in their campaign to get the government to renew a tide-over grant to cope with changes to their funding. But welfare officials have made a counter offer. The Director of Social Welfare, Paul Tang Kwok-wai, told welfare sector representatives yesterday that organisations unable to keep going without the transition fund could apply for a two-year one-off grant. Other groups that balance their budgets will be given money for staff welfare and training. The transition grant was introduced four years ago when the administration began allocating resources to NGOs in a lump sum based on the midpoint salaries of their staff. The grant, which amounted to $387 million last financial year, will end next March. NGOs and social worker unions have urged the government to renew the grant, saying they cannot afford to pay senior staff. Representatives of 70 welfare groups met Mr Tang yesterday and were given two options. The first, which will cost about $800 million, will provide a two-year one-off grant to NGOs unable to meet their budgets. But they will have to prepare financial plans in order to qualify. The second option is to reward NGOs that meet their budgets with new funds for staff training. 'We always try to help and will continue to help NGOs that cannot meet their budgets,' a Social Welfare Department spokesman said. Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, a lawmaker representing social workers, said: 'We are heartened to hear the government's decision.' Dr Cheung said the cost-cutting exercise was unfair as it was easier on younger organisations whose workers were paid less.