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Tuesday, December 6, 2016, 21:38

Govt removes regulation from scheme to help poor

By Luis Liu

The government removed a regulation on a major subsidy for the city's poor working families on Tuesday — to enable more people to benefit from the program.

The regulation which was abolished was called the “absence rule” in the Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) Scheme. This barred anyone who had been out of town for 30 days or more over the past six months from applying. The rule was making the number of applicants much less than expected.

According to government documents, there have been some 30,000 applications for the subsidy since it was introduced in May, less than a sixth of the government's objective of 200,000.

The change will be effective for applications received on or after Tuesday (Dec 6).

The government made the decision after consideration of the objectives of the LIFA Scheme to support working poor households and the education of the younger generation, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said.

The government will conduct a comprehensive policy review of the LIFA Scheme in mid-2017. Comments received from the public and concern groups on the scheme will be carefully and comprehensively considered, Cheung added.

The LIFA Scheme was launched in May to encourage self-reliance and ease inter-generational poverty. Each eligible child in the applicant family is granted a full-rate child allowance of HK$800 per month or a half-rate child allowance of HK$400 per month.

Cheung noted that single parents might have less support when taking care of their children. Therefore, the working-hour requirements for single parents will also be lowered. Eligible new arrivals in Hong Kong and self-employed people are able to apply for the allowance, according to official documents.
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