2015 Policy Address, Uphold the Rule of Law, Seize the Opportunities, Make the Right Choices, Pursue Democracy, Boost the Economy, Improve People's Livelihood
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Policy Address

V. Poverty Alleviation, Elderly Care and Support for the Disadvantaged

Poverty Alleviation

109.     In 2013, the Government set the first-ever poverty line.  Thanks to poverty alleviation measures, the overall poor population dropped to 970 000, below 1 million for the first time, and the poverty rate fell to a five-year low of 14.5% in 2013.  Our work in poverty alleviation has started to deliver results.

110.     The Government is working to fully implement the poverty alleviation blueprint announced in my last Policy Address by encouraging able-bodied young people and adults to become self-reliant through employment and making better use of the social security and welfare system to help those who cannot provide for themselves.  The Commission on Poverty will conduct focused studies on ways to further improve retirement protection and facilitate the upward mobility of young people from grassroots families through education, training and employment.  It will help the Community Care Fund (CCF) fully fulfil its function of plugging gaps in the existing system and make good use of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund.

Low-income Families

111.     To tackle working poverty, I proposed a Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) last year.  Annual expenditure will be around $3 billion.  It is estimated that over 200 000 low-income families with 710 000 people, including more than 170 000 children and young people, will benefit from the allowance.  The scheme will be implemented within 18 months from the date of funding approval by the Finance Committee of this Council.

112.     Moreover, the Government will again earmark $200 million to continue the short-term food assistance service for two more years up to end-2017.

Community Care Fund

113.     The CCF has launched 27 assistance programmes to help the disadvantaged, with a total commitment of over $4.7 billion and about 850 000 beneficiaries.  Ten of these programmes have been incorporated into the Government's regular assistance programme.  While the CCF is exploring a number of new assistance programmes, we will invite it to consider providing a one-off special subsidy for primary and secondary students on full grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme in the 2015/16 school year before the implementation of the LIFA.



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