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Alleviate poverty, care for the elderly and share prosperity

A few years ago, photos of the elderly scavenging for cartons were often seen in the newspaper. This reflected the hardship of the underprivileged in Hong Kong.

Since taking office, the current-term Government has been fully committed to implementing measures in four major policy areas: poverty alleviation, elderly care, housing and environmental protection. We have reinstated the Commission on Poverty and set Hong Kong's first ever poverty line to evaluate the effectiveness of our poverty alleviation measures.

Two years ago, I announced in my Policy Address that a Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) would be introduced. The aim is to relieve the financial burden of non-Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) low-income working families, as well as encourage people to take up employment and boost the workforce.

The LIFA scheme has been open for application for over three months. Up to now, more than $150 million has been approved, benefiting nearly 50 000 people from 12 000 families, including 23 000 children.

Over the past four years, government expenditure on social welfare has increased by 55 per cent. The money has been spent on helping those in need.

I dare to take bold actions to alleviate poverty and provide care for the elderly because I have confidence in Hong Kong. The great majority of Hong Kong people want to be self-reliant, so our welfare policies will not nurture layabouts.

As you may know, last month's CSSA unemployment caseload dropped to a new low since 1997 and was 36 per cent lower than that when I took office. The number of CSSA low earnings cases also fell to the lowest since 1998, a drop of about 45 per cent from that when I took office.

Our efforts in alleviating poverty, caring for the elderly and providing support for the underprivileged have borne fruit. For that, I am grateful to my government colleagues, including the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and civil servants at all levels for their concerted efforts.

August 21, 2016