Meeting of LegCo Panel on Welfare Services
on 12 April 1999

Agenda Item V: Strengthening of Social Security Field Units (SSFUs)
and the Special Investigation Team (SIT)


The Social Security Branch of the Social Welfare Department has 33 SSFUs which are responsible for processing applications for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), Social Security Allowance (SSA) and Fee Assistance (FA). The staff of SSFUs are also responsible for performing emergency relief duties. During processing applications for the above social welfare schemes, staff of SSFUs are required to verify information provided by the applicants, conduct investigation through home visits or office interviews, conduct assessment and authorization on applicants' eligibility for welfare assistance. The existing CSSA and SSA cases are reviewed regularly and the staff of SSFUs have to conduct reviews to ensure the continued eligibility of the recipients.

2. There are two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) that play the central role in fraud prevention and detection. The staff of SITs are mainly responsible for undertaking in-depth investigation of suspected fraud cases and conducting random checks of existing cases to detect fraud. SIT will also follow up on reports of suspected fraud and abuse, either received through the telephone hotline or other sources.

Staff strength

3. The approved establishment of SSFUs and the SITs in 1998/99 are 1 349 and 18 respectively. In 1999-2000, this will be increased to 1 537 for SSFUs and 34 staff for SITs respectively. A breakdown of the staff deployment is at the Annex. The increase of staff in the SSFUs is required to implement the Support for Self-reliance Scheme, handle increased number of applications and reviews due to increase in social security caseloads and strengthen investigation. The increase of staff in SIT is required to step up investigation and prevention of CSSA fraud.

Strengthening of investigation and fraud prevention

4. With the provision of additional staff, SWD will implement the following measures to strengthen control to safeguard public expenditure against fraud and abuse :

  • resuming home visits to all new CSSA applicants to establish their eligibility. 100 000 visits will be made in 1999/2000

  • paying additional home visits to able-bodied recipients (i.e. unemployed, single parent and low earning cases). 30 000 home visits will be made in 1999/2000

  • stepping up investigation into "high risk" CSSA cases by the Special Investigation Teams. 10 000 cases will be selected for investigation in 1999/2000

    Health & Welfare Bureau
    April 1999



    Breakdown of staff deployment in 1999/2000

    Implement the Support for self-reliance scheme

    Process applications for CSSA and SSA and strengthen investigation

    1 488
    Conduct random checks and in-depth investigation on suspected fraud cases

    Total1 53734