Thursday, 2 March 2017

Young Hong Kong People Fear Poverty

Young people worry they cannot get out of the cycle of poverty as adults
Oxfam Hong Kong has released its poverty report and one striking finding is that young Hong Kong people are more concerned about the issue than their elders.

In a survey of 1,000 respondents, over half thought poverty was serious, with 65.4 percent of those in the 18-39 age range worried the most, compared with 47.6 percent of people aged 40-59, and 46.4 percent of those over 60.

Many elderly don't get financial assistance
Young people also felt intergenerational poverty was the most pressing issue, where a person grows up in poverty, but also continues to live with financial challenges as an adult because of poor education and/or health issues.

"They are feeling frustrated. I think they experience the problem now existing," says Wong Shek-hung, program manager of Oxfam Hong Kong.

Wong cited the government's 2015 Poverty Situation Report where almost one million people are living in poverty in the city, about 30 percent of them are elderly.

"The poverty in Hong Kong is very serious," Wong said. "Elderly poverty is still the greatest challenge to Hong Kong."

Of the respondents, nearly 40 percent of them felt the minimum wage should be raised to over HK$45 (US$5.80) an hour, up from the new rate of HK$35.50 that will be in effect from May. Oxfam has also called for the government to review the minimum wage annually instead of every two years as it currently lags behind inflation.

Some 30 percent of the poor are elderly people in the city
When you convert HK$45, it's not even US$6 -- this is shocking. And I thought working for US$10 an hour was terrible.

Chief executive candidate Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says while she is accused of being a "welfarist", she supports big business because she believes it will lead to higher wages.

Company owners can very easily cry to her about how business has been so tough that raising wages would make their profit margins even thinner.

When is the government going to take a tough stand for the ordinary guy? We appreciate the recent budget with cuts on income taxes, but this just helps ease the strains of the high costs of things for another year; it doesn't help the average person get a leg up on building his or her pot of gold to really feel confident and optimistic for their futures.

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