Lawmakers demand shelving of penalty for welfare recipients

Local | 28 Jan 2019 4:28 pm

Lawmakers have continued their attack on the government over changes being made to the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance program for the elderly, even after Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Law Chi-kwong, told them that a controversial new penalty will be suspended for six months, RTHK reports.

The secretary told legislators at a Welfare Panel meeting today that because of "different views” on the matter, the government is holding off on the penalty plan and would review the situation after six months.

Under the plan, welfare recipients aged 60 to 64 who refuse to meet a social worker every two months to help them find a job were to have HK$200 deducted.

But the secretary's announcement did not satisfy some lawmakers.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said he wanted the government to withdraw the plan, not just suspend it.

"Perhaps what has been said by the secretary is only a delay tactic. He never promised that he would withdraw this proposal of taking away HK$200 from the recipients aged between 60 and 64. The government is changing the policy every day. We can’t trust this government,” he said.

The administration had already backed down after lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a non-binding motion against raising the eligible age under the CSSA scheme from 60 to 65.

Later, after holding talks with some pro-government lawmakers, officials announced that welfare recipients aged 60 to 64 will receive allowances of about HK$1,000 to make up for the change.

But lawmakers, including from the pro-government DAB party, have continued to air their dissatisfaction over the age change. They insisted the government must withdraw the plan to change the age criterion.

Earlier, the Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union staged a protest outside the Legco building, criticising the proposed HK$200 deduction as being meaningless and inhumane.-Photo: RTHk

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