Thirty-five per cent of children on welfare in Hong Kong have to skip meals to pay for other essentials, according to a new survey.
Hong Kong non-profit group the Society for Community Organisation (SoCo) conducted the survey on child poverty ahead of Children’s Day on November 20.
According to government statistics, there are more than 56,000 children on welfare in the city, out of 237,000 children living below Hong Kong’s poverty threshold. With a total youth population of slightly more than one million, it means almost a quarter of children in Hong Kong are living in relative poverty.
SoCo said the city’s welfare system needs reform, as neither the basic allowances nor new needs of children have been reviewed in the past 20 years. It also said the way needs are measured is flawed, as it does not properly calculate increases in cost of living.
Education can be a way for many young people to escape poverty, but SoCo noted that welfare in Hong Kong does not include funding for extracurricular activities such as cultural or sports activities, or for technological resources.
Speaking to Young Post, SoCo Community Organiser Sze Lai-shan said the method of calculating whether families qualify for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) needs to be changed.
“The government has refused to adopt a basic budgetary approach to calculate the level of support recipients get,” she said. “They insist there is enough coverage but in reality that is not true. For example, the rent people pay for sublet homes is abnormal.”
“There is a very real problem of people not getting enough money for food, and food banks generally don’t serve those on CSSA. These are basic needs.”