26th February, 2014
Since CSSA Limits Lifted Average 69 Applications are Received Per Day
In the end of 2013, the Court of Final Appeal announced that the law that requires new immigrants to be Hong Kong residents for seven years before applying for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance programme (CSSA) is unconstitutional, and the restriction is reset back to the 1st January 2014, which is one year instead of seven. The Court’s judgment has caused worries amongst political parties as well as the public that the government’s social benefit system will be stressed. Secretary for Labour and Welfare Bureau Matthew Cheung Kin-chung responded to lawmaker’s enquiry in a letter that as at 24th February, the Social Welfare Department has received 3,112 applications from new immigrants who have not lived in Hong Kong for seven years. That means, on average, 69 relevant applications were received per day.
Cheung said that the government respect and is willing to cooperate with the Court of Final Appeal’s judgment, and stressed that the Social Welfare Department will meet with each applicant and home visit every applicant in order to confirm the information they provide are genuine before approving each application. The Department has an anti-fraud investigation unit which investigates and reviews each application. A hotline is also set up for citizens in Hong Kong to report suspected CSSA fraud cases.