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.