A lawmaker plans to set up an alliance to fight for clearer guidelines on staffing for welfare NGOs and the minimum wages they pay. Under the lump-sum grant system, introduced in 2000, NGOs can decide manpower deployment and wages on their own. Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who represents the social welfare sector, said he would work with academics and welfare service beneficiaries to push for reform if existing social workers' groups did not urge the government to do so. 'Before the lump-sum grant system was introduced, there were clearly defined rules for manpower deployment in different service units of NGOs, like defining the number of degree-holding and non-degree-holding social workers required at centres for youth or the elderly,' he said. 'Now there are only very rough deployment requirements, saying just that there should be social workers at a centre, for example.' Clearer deployment requirements would help maintain service quality and ease staff workloads. Dr Cheung also urged the government to set minimum wages for various grades and positions in NGOs. Social Workers' General Union president Peter Cheung Kwok-che said members recognised from the beginning the need for clearer staffing regulations and standard wages. 'We have been worried that the lump-sum grant system would affect our service since its launch, as we fear that NGOs might lay off more staff and cut salaries,' he said. But Social Workers Association chairman Chua Hoi-wai said stricter staffing rules and standard wages would mean abolishing the lump-sum grant system. Before the lump-sum grant system, the government covered all spending by welfare groups.