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Senior care dilemma as cross-border option ends

Time: 2018-01-05 11:06  From :HZResearch  Author:HZResearch
 
Hong Kong resident Lau Fo-lam, who lives in Shenzhen, Guangdong, makes plastic flowers with children.  YU YANMIN/FOR CHINA DALY

Fewer older people from Hong Kong are moving to the mainland to take advantage of lower costs to fund their retirement, as Zhou Mo reports.

Living on the other side of the border used to be a popular option for retired seniors in Hong Kong, especially as they often had to wait years to be allocated a place at a local nursing home.

Larger homes, a lower cost of living and a better social environment were some of the factors that prompted seniors to spend the autumn of their lives in the Chinese mainland.

However, in recent years the number choosing to make the move has fallen.

The appreciation of the yuan against the Hong Kong dollar has resulted in a higher cost of living on the mainland, so it is no longer a cheap option for Hong Kong seniors, especially as they do not qualify for free use of the mainland's social welfare services and must use their savings to pay all expenses.

In October 2013, the Hong Kong government launched the Guangdong Scheme. It offers an allowance of HK$1,325 ($169) a month to eligible Hong Kong seniors age 65 or older who choose to reside in Guangdong province, but the number of people drawing the allowance is falling every year.

The Hong Kong Social Welfare Department said 14,600 people benefited from the policy in 2016-17, a fall of 15 percent from the 17,194 recorded in 2013-14.

The number of recipients of Portable Comprehensive Social Security Assistance has also declined.

The program is part of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, a welfare measure that provides supplementary payments to Hong Kong residents whose income is too low to cover daily needs.

Portable Comprehensive Social Security Assistance extends the concept by ensuring that residents who choose to live in Guangdong or Fujian province still receive the monthly payment, boosted by an annual long-term supplement.

In 2015-16, 1,733 people claimed welfare benefits; a fall of about 25 percent from the 2,304 who claimed in 2012-13.

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