By Melissa Tsang
Hong Kong-The Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme provides a safety net for those who cannot support themselves financially due to unemployment, elderly, disability or any other possible reasons. It is designed by Hong Kong government to bring those people’s income up to a prescribed level to meet their basic needs. According to regulations, the applicants must pass financial tests, including income and asset tests.
Open documents of Social Welfare Department reveals able-bodied single adult aged under 60 could get $2,155 per month through CSSA, and able-bodied elderly person aged 60 or above could draw $3,055 monthly. While the Old Age Living Allowance for 65 or above is $2,285 per month, $1,180 monthly for 70 or above.
In 1998, a review report was published due to the surge numbers and spending of the CSSA scheme. At that time, some people could get more money through the CSSA than earn wages in the working market. Besides, more and more people doubted the abusing of the CSSA. The report introduced the Support for Self-reliance Scheme, requiring able-bodied applicants aged 15 to 59 must also join the SFS when they applied for the CSSA.
Even so, cases of fraud CSSA were reported frequently in newspapers. Wen Wei Po once published a story of former Hong Kong judge Lee Pak-Kim jailed for 11 months on account of fraud CSSA. In 2013, the Social Welfare Department revised the application conditions of CSSA, opening the door to those who have resided in Hong Kong for one year. That means, the applicants do not have to be the permanent residents of Hong Kong as far as they have held the Hong Kong resident status for at least one year, they are able to apply for the CSSA.
“I’m supportive to this, because the government can not watch these people starve to death, the same as you can not stop a doctor healing the wounded and rescuing the dying,” a retired shipping worker Lee said.
Wong Wai-Dik, a 25-year middle school teacher said, “it is acceptable that these subsidizes given to whose really needed, but new immigrants should try harder to look for jobs. It is sad to see some new immigrants seek for CSSA just due to laziness.”
Data from the Social Welfare Department shows the number of CSSA cases did not receive substantial rise since the application conditions changed to at least one-year resident. Further, the number fell 0.2% by month in August 2014, and the data owned a 0.4% decrease in September 2014 on a monthly basis.
“I’m not for it, because I see some permanent residents fail to apply for the CSSA. There are too many people in Hong Kong. Also, when I say I’m not for it, it does not mean I will stand up to against it,” said Lin, a 67-year retired driver.