Social activists have urged the government to review its welfare system for retirees after claiming that 40 per cent of them are living below the poverty line. In a poll commissioned by the Council of Social Service, 42 per cent of the 105 single retirees surveyed said they spent less than HK$3,740 a month, the average amount of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance that poor elderly single people received in 2006. Some 40 per cent of 186 married retirees also spent less than the average CSSA level for poor elderly couples. In 2006, a poor elderly couple could receive HK$5,915 a month on average, the council said. Chua Hoi-wai, the council's business director of policy advocacy and international networks, said: 'If the government regards the CSSA rates as the poverty threshold, it means about 40 per cent of retirees now live below the poverty line. The figure is quite worrying.' In the first half of 2006, the council commissioned Policy 21, a University of Hong Kong research institute, to survey 495 people aged at least 35. Of the 291 retired people surveyed, 16 per cent said they spent less than HK$2,500 a month while 27 per cent said they spent around HK$2,500 to HK$5,000 a month. The council's chief executive, Christine Fang Meng-sang, said many elderly people were forced to be frugal because they no longer had a stable income and their savings were inadequate. She urged the government to introduce a universal retirement scheme in which it, employers and workers made monthly contributions to support all elderly in the city. Her proposal was backed by 57 per cent of the interviewees. The findings also showed that 96 per cent of the 204 respondents who had not retired had made no financial planning for their retirement. Ms Fang called on the government to strengthen education on financial planning so more people would plan ahead.