The Government announced in late June the appointment of members to the new term of the Commission on Poverty (CoP); among the appointed members is DAB representative, District Councilor Terry Yip, who will continue to work for the welfare of the grassroots and alleviate hardships brought on by poverty. In regards to the new term of the Commission, the DAB hopes the government will set performance targets for reducing poverty and narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor; in addition, we have put forward the following 10 relief proposals that target the needs of different groups:
Set performance target for reducing poverty
Since the establishment of the CoP, the commission annually releases figures and analyses associated with the “poverty line” in order to shed light on poverty situation in Hong Kong. However, there is no integrated data showing whether current policies are effective enough to alleviate poverty. In order to make it easier for the general public to understand and analyse the impact of current policies and the direction of improvement, the Commission should set an annual numerical target of getting a set number of people lifted out of poverty in the year ahead, and target measures in combating poverty so as to reduce population living in poverty and narrow the wealth gap.
Moreover, as Hong Kong’s poverty line is calculated in terms of income, those who have assets but not income are also included, while others heavily burdened by housing, child care and elderly care needs with stable income are left out of the government’s numbers. We propose that the Commission look into the situation and set up a set of objective indicators of basic standard of living for supplementary reference, so as to truly reflect the poverty situation in Hong Kong.
Our 10 proposals for alleviating poverty: Community Care Fund
Since the founding of Community Care Fund, it has launched 46 relief projects, a portion of which, having gone through pilot and evaluation period have been adopted as regular subsidy projects by the government. However, there remains some projects that ran for a while but were suspended in the end. We propose that the government improve or adjust some details of certain projects in order to run them once more. Also, the government should strengthen its efforts to help lift children and the elderly out of poverty. We propose the Community Care Fund to consider these new projects:
Establish a “temporary rent subsidy” for those on the public housing waitlist.
Establish children’s medical vouchers.
Subsidise seniors in need to receive atrial fibrillation screening.
Improve existing projects
Increase the subsidies provided to carers and lower the eligibility threshold for applicants.
Improve the Elderly Dental Assistance Programme.
Re-launch and improve previous projects
School-based fund (Summer school activities).
”Free Lunch at Schools” programme should expand to cover secondary school students.
Proposals to help ethnic minorities in poverty
Support employment counselling services.
Improve their Chinese language skills.
Standardised translation and interpretation services.