There is no official poverty line in Hong Kong. However, the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) level is practically the de facto “poverty line” for Hong Kong. Those who cannot meet their basic needs accordingly (including low-income families not receiving CSSA) can access to extensive social and welfare services provided by the Government.
There is a general consensus among members of the Commission on Poverty (CoP) that poverty should not be defined rigidly as one fixed figure or line. Given a generally affluent economy and the broad coverage of social services and support available in Hong Kong, the concept of poverty should be multi-dimensional and focus on the needs of the disadvantageous groups.
CoP Members agreed at the meeting on 18 February 2005 to develop a set of indicators reflecting the poverty situation of four key social groups, namely –
- working people;
- the elderly; and
- the community.
Members noted at the meeting on 11 April 2005 that the Administration has taken the first step in putting together a set of indicators, and appreciated that the compilation of relevant indicators was necessarily developmental and involved continuous refinement. The Administration is refining the set of indicators and would invite further comments from the public before finalising the indicators.
The indicators would be used in the future to (a) track and monitor poverty situation in Hong Kong over time; (b) facilitate broad strategy planning. In monitoring the poverty situation in Hong Kong, the indicators could be supplemented, where appropriate, by more detailed analysis and other district-specific information and statistics. Meanwhile, work on poverty alleviation and prevention would commence in parallel with work on the compilation of the indicators.
A refined set of indicators was discussed at the CoP meeting on 25 Nov 2005.