The Social Welfare Department (SWD) strives to build a caring society and provide members of the public with a wide range of welfare services comprising preventive, nurturing, supportive and remedial measures in order to help needy individuals and families. In 2014-15, the Government's actual recurrent expenditure on social welfare reached $54.3 billion, accounting for 17.8% of the total recurrent government expenditure, the second highest among all policy areas. When compared with the figure in 2013-14 ($51.6 billion), the actual recurrent expenditure on social welfare had increased by 5.2%. The ever-increasing expenditure on social welfare provisions clearly reflects the Government's commitment to supporting needy persons in society.
Poverty Alleviation
In September 2013, the Government announced the first official poverty line, marking an important milestone in tackling the poverty problem. The second-term Commission on Poverty (CoP), formed in December 2014, conducts in-depth studies and deliberation on specific areas through four task forces. SWD has been actively participating in the work of the CoP and its task forces to assist in implementing poverty alleviation measures and rendering support to individuals and families with special needs. In the past two years, SWD launched three new assistance programmes under the Community Care Fund (CCF), with some individual assistance programmes relaunched and enhanced as well. Moreover, four assistance programmes with proven effectiveness were regularised so as to provide more targeted and effective assistance to underprivileged groups and low-income families.
Elderly Care

Hong Kong has a gradually ageing population. The number of elderly persons aged 65 and above is projected to rise substantially from 1.02 million or 14% of the population in 2012 to 2.56 million or 30% of the population in 2041. Our objective is to provide our senior citizens with appropriate support for them to live in dignity and with a sense of belonging, security and worthiness. Under the guiding principle of “Ageing in Place”, we rolled out the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Services Voucher for the Elderly in September 2013 to enable eligible elderly persons to choose the services that suit their individual needs with the use of service vouchers. Moreover, a two-year Pilot Scheme on Living Allowance for Carers of the Elderly Persons from Low Income Families was launched in June 2014, whereby carers of elderly persons from low-income families would be given a living allowance to help supplement their living expenses so that elderly persons in need of long-term care services can, under the help of their carers, receive proper care and continue living in the community.

We also improved the physical setting and facilities of the elderly centres over the territory, increased the recurrent expenditure for upgrading all subvented social centres for the elderly to neighbourhood elderly centres, and increased the day care places operating under the conventional subvention mode, as well as extended the service hours of new day care centres/units for the elderly.

Support for the Disadvantaged
We have implemented a series of measures to strengthen the support for the disadvantaged, which included refining the short-term food assistance service projects; strengthening the service and social work support of the Neighbourhood Support Child Care Project; extending the Home Care Services for Persons with Severe Disabilities; increasing the manpower of the District Support Centres for Persons with Disabilities; increasing the manpower of subvented Parents/Relatives Resources Centres to enhance the support for parents and relatives/carers of persons with disabilities and ex-mentally ill persons, including parents and relatives/carers of children or young persons with special needs; implementing the Integrated Support Services for Persons with Severe Physical Disabilities; strengthening the short-term day and residential care services for persons with disabilities; regularising the CCF Programme “Training Subsidy Programme for Children on the Waiting List of Subvented Pre-school Rehabilitation Services” as one of the Government's regular assistance programmes; implementing the licensing scheme under the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance for ensuring that the services of the residential care homes for persons with disabilities could meet the statutory requirements; and increasing the manpower of Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness to provide services for more persons in need of community mental health support services.
Social Security
We continued to improve the social security system in a number of ways, including launching the Old Age Living Allowance under the Social Security Allowance (SSA) Scheme from 1 April 2013 to supplement the living expenses of eligible elderly persons who are in need by providing them with a cash allowance. We also introduced the Guangdong Scheme under the SSA Scheme on 1 October 2013, allowing eligible Hong Kong elderly persons who choose to reside in Guangdong to receive the Old Age Allowance without having to return to Hong Kong each year.
Youth Support
Through the Pilot Cyber Youth Outreaching Projects, we provide support for at-risk youths. Furthermore, we have continued to be entrusted with the operational responsibility of the Child Development Fund, which received an additional injection of $300 million in 2015-16 to support disadvantaged children aged between 10 and 16. To promote tripartite cross-sectoral partnership among the welfare sector, the business community and the Government, the Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged was provided with another $400 million by the Government in 2015, $200 million of which would be dedicated to the provision of more after-school learning and support programmes for primary and secondary students from disadvantaged families to facilitate their whole-person development.
Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses

We have been implementing the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses since September 2013 with a view to encouraging welfare organisations to make better use of the land owned by them through in-situ expansion or redevelopment for welfare uses, in particular for the provision of additional elderly and rehabilitation facilities.

In this era of rapid development and changes, social problems are becoming increasingly complex. In the face of the myriad social needs and challenges, we will continue implementing and enhancing various welfare programmes with enthusiasm and dedication, in order to provide the disadvantaged groups and the community with a full range of quality and professional services. Moreover, we will strive to engage and collaborate with various sectors of the community. Through forging partnership with non-governmental organisations, the welfare sector, and the business community, we hope to create more social capital for building a caring and harmonious society in which people will live a better life.

Carol YIP
Director of Social Welfare