A MOTHER who is surviving on $4,000 savings yesterday made a plea for her welfare payments, delayed for five weeks by a computer glitch, to be speeded up. Yau Chan Pui-fan, 40, gave up work two months ago to look after her six-year-old son. Her husband died of cancer in October. She applied for public assistance nearly seven weeks ago. Processing usually takes 14 days, but computer problems at the Social Welfare Department have been delaying payments for up to 5,000 families, all new applicants for public assistance, old age and disabled allowances. Overworked welfare officers having to deal with the extra workload caused by the hitch are too busy to process new applications. Mrs Yau and Ming-tsai live in a 200-square-foot public housing flat in Ngau Tau Kok. She quit her job as a cleaner after her neighbours warned that it was dangerous to leave her son unattended at home. ''I wonder how much longer my $4,000 savings can maintain our livelihood,'' Mrs Yau said. ''At present, we spend $1.50 on two slices of bread for breakfast, and have noodles for lunch. ''I only buy cheap vegetables for dinner. We seldom eat meat because it is too expensive. ''If I am sick, I go to bed early but do not go to the doctor. I take my son to the playground downstairs, but dim sum or McDonald's are beyond our means.'' She made a plea to the Government to speed up the approval. ''I hope the Government can give me the money as soon as possible,'' she said. ''I wish I did not need public assistance - I am out of a job and my savings are nearly used up. I had no choice.'' Yesterday, Ming-tsai was delighted that the South China Morning Post had bought him a birthday cake. Mrs Yau's case worker, Tsang Wai-ming, said her application was being assessed and he would submit a report to his supervisor for approval. He said he hopes she will get her first welfare payment soon. Mrs Yau would be entitled to $2,140 and can also apply for special allowances including rent, school fees, telephone and water charges. Mr Tsang, who is also chairman of the Social Security Assistant Branch of the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association, said Mrs Yau's case was only one of 5,000 applications awaiting processing. Social Welfare Department officials have promised to take on another 26 senior social security assistants next month to clear the backlog.