In Hong Kong, more than 50% of HKSAR government public expenditure is spent in providing social welfare services. Education, housing, medical and health services and social welfare are four major aspects of the social policy. As point out by R. Titmuss (1974), the objective of social policy is to meet people’s needs and promote social integration and discourage alienation. It means that an effective and efficient social policy can build up social cohesion and unity amount social groups and individual and society, by meeting people’s needs and resolving social problems. It can even promote sense of belongings and identity amount peoples in the society, which is vital to social stability.
However not every social policies can achieve these objectives. In recently years, there are some dysfunctions of social policy in Hong Kong. Those policies cannot satisfy people’s needs, or even bring negative effect results to the society. Those dysfunctions may create social alienation as well. In the following, we will discuss both positive function and dysfunction of social policy in Hong Kong society together with some examples.
The most fundamental positive function of social policy is that it can satisfy people basic living needs like food and housing. Although it seems so basic that everybody in Hong Kong does not lack, some poor can only live rely on government’s help. These kinds of people may be disabled, lack of study or old in age. Thus the government provides the comprehensive social security assistance (CSSA) to them. CSSA was launch in1971. It aims to at provide direct financial assistance to the needs. To avoid abuse to use, CSSA is income and assets tested. For a typical family with four able-bodies members, the asset cannot exceed $58,000 and the income cannot exceed the amount monthly needed as recognized under the Scheme. For this family, it can get at least $5,290 direct financial subsidy from government per month. There are three kinds of payment. Some supplements and special grants may be allowed according to different situations. Since the CSSA is direct financial subsidy, it can satisfy the poor basic living need like the food problem. Without CSSA, they may simply die due to starvation. Also by providing direct financial subsidy, it can reduce the income gap, which the problem is very serious in Hong Kong.
Beside the food problem, housing is also another essential living need for all citizens. In Hong Kong, however, the price of a housing unit is one of the highest in the world, even for a small flat. It is due to the land supply is very limit, but there are over 7 million people living in this small city. To avoid those unaffordable just sleeping on the street, the HKSAR government has launched a lot of housing policies. First there are many public housing estates built by the government to rent out since 1960’s, like Wong Tai Sin estate and Choi Hung estate. The low income group can then rent a flat form the government by paying only about one third of the market price. In Hong Kong, there are about 30% of the population living in these rental units. Second, the government also used to build low-priced flats to sell, which is the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS). About 20% of Hong Kong citizens live in these estates like Tin Chung Court in Tin Shui Wai and Tung Tao Court in Shau Kei Wan. This scheme was launched since 1970’s and it enables the middle-low class to own their own flat. Nevertheless, as the price of private housing units dropped rapidly in 2003, the government abolished this scheme in 2003. In addition, the government also set up a tenant purchase scheme in 1998 to make more citizens to have their own flat. Similar to the HOS, this scheme stopped in 2005. Although the government does not sell low-priced flats anymore, she still takes the responsibility of providing accommodation to the poor by renting out inexpensive units. It plays an important role in building the sense of...
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