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Monday, September 19, 2016, 18:01

Paperwork simplified for working family subsidy


HONG KONG - Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung on Monday said the government will simplify the paperwork for applying the Low-income Working Family Allowance and may relax the restrictions as only around 15 percent of the households expected to benefit from the allowance applied within the first four months.

According to data from the government, around 31,800 households applied for the subsidy by mid-September, and 20,633 of them were approved.

Cheung admitted that the situation was less than satisfactory as the government, at the outset, expected around 200,000 households to benefit from the subsidy.

Expressing his concerns and worries, Cheung said the government will optimize the process using multiple measures, including cutting the application forms from eight pages to six pages, partnering with non-governmental groups to assist applicants with paperwork, and extending the office hours of 11 integrated family service centers under the department to allow more eligible families to apply.

Cheung noted that the reasons behind that low performance of the subsidy are complex, citing that there could be some new changes in the demographics of working hours and salaries in Hong Kong since the estimate was made in 2014.

Cheung promised to overhaul the policy in May together with a similar subsidy, the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy.

The low-income family subsidy goes as high as HK$1,000 for a family each month if they meet the minimum overall working hours of 192 hours for a standard family of two parents. Single-parent household will get a maximum of HK$500. All applicants are subject to income and asset cap as well.

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