Hong Kong 2003
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Social Welfare
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The Government is committed to building an efficient, effective, accountable and sustainable social welfare system. To address challenges posed by a fiscal deficit, unemployment due to economic restructuring, growing demand on social security support and weakened family solidarity, the Government continues to focus on encouraging self-reliance and self-betterment so as to build up social capital and strengthen social cohesion. In 2003, major work objectives of the Social Welfare Department included the strengthening of support for families in need; intensifying self-reliance among able-bodied recipients under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme; and re-engineering of community services for elders. The department also participated actively and extensively in various aspects of work relating to combating the SARS outbreak.

HONG KONG devotes much effort to caring for and supporting those least able to take care of themselves. Social welfare forms an important component in the Government's responsibility for social development. In 2003, the Government continued to provide a well-resourced safety net to look after the physical and psychological well-being of the elderly, the infirm and the disabled; to assist the disadvantaged, the poor and the unemployed with an emphasis on enhancing, not impeding, their will to be self-reliant; and to encourage those with sufficient means to show concern for others in the community.

The Government is advised by the Social Welfare Advisory Committee on social welfare policy, the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee on matters of rehabilitation, and the Elderly Commission on services for elders and the Women's Commission on a strategic overview of women's issues. The responsibility for formulating and carrying out policies on social welfare rests with the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food and the Director of Social Welfare, respectively. The Social Welfare Department (SWD) maintains a close working partnership with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which, with subventions provided by the Government, are the main providers of social welfare services.

In 2003, expenditure on social welfare amounted to $32.4 billion: this comprised $22.9 billion (70.7 per cent) on financial assistance payments, $6.9 billion (21.3 per cent) on subventions, $0.5 billion (1.5 per cent) on contract services and $2.1 billion (6.5 per cent) on services provided by the SWD. Social welfare accounted for 15.2 per cent of the total recurrent public expenditure.

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