Retirees see their benefits across border

Local | Cindy Wan 25 Feb 2019

Officials are looking into ways to provide those elderly who retire in Guangdong with care services on par with those in the SAR.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said in a blog posting yesterday that the Greater Bay Area's outline development plan has sparked debate over whether the elderly should be encouraged to retire in Guangdong.

"To create an environment favorable for Hong Kong and Macau residents to retire in Guangdong," the plan states.

Law said the plan does not encourage Hongkongers to retire in Guangdong. Rather, it aims to provide convenience for those already living there.

He linked it to the concept of "aging in place," by which the Labour and Welfare Bureau hopes to offer solutions to let the elderly retire in places with which they are familiar.

According to a Census and Statistics Department 2016 estimate there were 77,000 Hongkongers aged 65 or over staying in Guangdong for more than six months a year.

Law said among measures being studied so that people enjoy the same welfare standards as others in the SAR is making social security schemes for the elderly "portable" between the mainland and Hong Kong.

An example is the pilot residential care services scheme in Guangdong and Fujian. Participants can receive the HK$1,385 old age allowance - "fruit money" - in the two provinces.

Up to January there were 16,800 participants in the Guangdong scheme and 1,500 in the Fujian one, Law said.

Following Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's policy address in October, Law added, the government plans to include the normal old age llving allowance in Guangdong and Fujian next year. By that time, 25,000 eligible elderly citizens living across the border will be able to apply for the HK$2,675 allowance.

Besides those schemes applying in Guangdong and Fujian, recipients of elderly comprehensive social security assistance can obtain subsidies outside Hong Kong.

Law also said the Social Welfare Department has not run into problems with a pilot residential care services scheme in Guangdong since it was launched in 2014. That sees 209 people on the waiting list for places in elderly homes in Hong Kong volunteering to go into two centers.

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