147. The current-term Government spares no effort to enhance social welfare services. The recurrent expenditure in this area has increased by 26 per cent, from $65.3 billion in 2017-18 to $82.3 billion in 2019-20. In January, the Chief Executive also announced a number of new recurrent measures to benefit the elderly, workers, low-income families, the unemployed or underemployed, and underprivileged people.
148. I will continue to allocate resources to strengthen elderly services. A total of 3 000 additional home care service quotas will be provided for frail elderly persons in the two years, while an additional 1 000 community care service vouchers will be issued to elderly persons with moderate or severe impairment in 2020-21. The annual recurrent expenditure for 2020-21 will exceed $300 million. In addition, I will allocate an additional $75 million to subsidised elderly service units for providing soft meals to elderly persons with swallowing difficulties.
149. As for child welfare, to enhance the service quality of the Neighbourhood Support Child Care Project, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) has allocated an additional provision of about $24 million to service operators under the Project since January this year, enabling them to increase manpower to strengthen training for home-based child carers.
150. For early identification of and provision of assistance to pre-primary children and their families with welfare needs, the Government has allocated $990 million from the Lotteries Fund to provide social work services in phases in subsidised/aided child care centres, kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-child care centres for about 150 000 pre-primary children and their families. The first two phases have provided services to 485 eligible pre-primary institutions in total. The third phase will commence in August this year.
151. Starting from 2020-21, I will provide additional funding to SWD-subvented NGOs operating day service units to meet the electricity costs of providing air conditioning for their activity areas, involving an annual recurrent expenditure of about $46 million. It is expected that over 1 100 subvented service units and more than one million service users will benefit from this initiative.
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