Reform CSSA scheme so people get help and have incentive to work

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 September, 2016, 12:18am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 September, 2016, 8:27pm

I refer to the report (“Poor feel squeeze as rents rise faster than subsidies”, September 12).

Hongkongers from low-income households are finding that rents are rising faster than the government subsidies that they receive.

Over two months, a concern group, the Low Income Alliance, conducted a survey of 101 households which are recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA).

The survey showed that 40 per cent of respondents had experienced rental increases in the past year of an average of 10.6 per cent. However, the rental subsidy granted to them by the government was only raised by 5.8 per cent this year.

This clearly shows that government subsidies cannot overtake or even match rent hikes. As a consequence the living environment of residents from the grass roots is getting worse. Many have to stay in subdivided units.

The subsidies they receive do not even enable them to pay for their daily necessities. Many of them have been waiting for more than five years for a public housing flat.

The results of the survey highlight the need for the government to revise its policies and schemes aimed at helping these citizens. There should be a better response from the Housing Authority. It is not enough just to construct more public housing estates.

Also, the Social Welfare Department should review and improve the CSSA scheme so that it helps those who are genuinely in need.

Just giving them handouts means they become dependent on this money and wait for it each month. The scheme should be structured to encourage self-reliance. They should not have their CSSA payments reduced or suspended if they get a low-paid job. This is a disincentive for people to find work.

The purpose of the CSSA scheme is good, but it needs fine-tuning so it really helps those in need.

Fiona Hui Wing-sze, Kwai Chung