VII. Continuously Improving People’s Livelihood
Increased Expenditure on Welfare
120. As reflected in the allocation of resources, the current-term Government is committed to building a caring community and looking after the underprivileged. Recurrent expenditure on social welfare has significantly increased from $65.3 billion in 2017-18 to $105.7 billion in 2021-22, an increase of 62% over four years. It is the biggest expenditure area amongst different policy areas, accounting for about 20% of overall recurrent government expenditure. In the face of the uncertainties in our economic outlook and serious fiscal deficits, the Government will focus on the implementation of planned policy initiatives in the year ahead and review their effectiveness from time to time to ensure that needy citizens can benefit.
121. The wealth gap issue in Hong Kong is the community’s primary concern. It is the responsibility of the Government to take care of those in need by providing a social safety net through income redistribution. According to statistics released at the end of last year, the size of the poor population in 2019, after taking into account all the cash and PRH benefits, decreased significantly from the pre-intervention 1.49 million to 0.64 million. This shows that the safety net has effectively achieved the function of income redistribution by providing concrete support for the grassroots and lifting them out of poverty.