More than 50 social workers and social work students protested in Central yesterday against the controversial lump-sum grant system. The protesters, who were mainly students, marched from Chater Garden to the Central Government Offices to urge the authorities to look again at the conclusions reached by a review panel. The five-member panel was appointed by the government in January last year to assess how effective the grant system was. After carrying out an 11-month review, it said in December that the system, used in the social welfare sector for eight years, was worth keeping but needed improving. The government accepted all 36 recommendations in the report and would introduce most of the new initiatives by the end of this year, a paper sent to the legislature by the Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Social Welfare Department last Tuesday shows. The paper will be tabled for discussion in the Legislative Council today. The review panel suggested that the welfare sector draw up a best practice manual to provide guidelines for non-governmental organisations on their management practices, including human resource policies. Peter Cheung Kwok-che, legislator for the social welfare sector who led the protest, said: 'The manual will be non-binding. Groups won't be penalised.' He said he would not rule out staging another strike. Several thousand social workers took to the streets in 2007 to protest against the subvention system. Cheung Chi-wai, chairman of the staff association of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said: 'If we accept the lump-sum grant system, it will be like planting a time bomb.' He said the government should monitor the spending of welfare groups more closely to ensure that public money was well used. Cheuk Man-po, external secretary of the Federation of Social Work Students, said she was worried that service quality would suffer as the government no longer stipulated the salary and staffing structures of welfare organisations under the current system. Policy Viewers, a group set up in 1984 by academics and professionals to study public affairs and government policies, said authorities should not have accepted the panel's report, which it said overlooked stakeholders' concerns. It said it was unacceptable that the report did not suggest ways to solve the problems of the welfare sector and name departments or bureaus that would follow up the matters.