LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL PANEL ON WELFARE SERVICES
Meeting on 14 December 1998 at 10:45 a.m.
IMPLEMENTATION OF INTEGRATED NEIGHBOURHOOD
PROJECTS IN OLD URBAN AREAS
This paper reports on the implementation of Integrated Neighbourhood Projects in Old Urban Areas.
2. Members were informed of the introduction of Integrated Neighbourhood Projects (INPs) at the Panel meeting held on 27.7.98. The main objective of INPs is to strengthen outreaching efforts to the target groups of new arrivals, the elderly and the low income families in 12 identified old urban areas with an aim to develop self-help and mutual help abilities. The INP will be based in an existing Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) service unit. The INP service for a given area will operate initially for a period of 3 years; thereafter the need for such service will be critically reviewed in the light of relevant considerations, including the justification for the continuing need for such outreaching service for the target groups in the given area.
Preparation for Implementing of INPs
3. To prepare for the implementation of INPs, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) has, in consultation with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) and Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), worked out the following arrangements to roll out the INP service: -
(a) Delineation of service boundaries
Detailed site investigation on the 12 targeted areas had been conducted in August this year. The actual service boundaries were confirmed in October taking into account the actual situation of the targeted areas.
(b) Priority for provision of service
The priority for provision of INP service to the 12 targeted areas would be based on the ranking of deprived neighbourhoods as recommended by the Review Group on Pilot NLCDPs in Old Urban Areas (Review Group).
(c) Formulation of Funding and Service Agreement
The draft Funding and Service Agreement (FSA) setting out the scope and the performance requirements of the service has been prepared. A task group comprising members from HKCSS and the NGOs who have successfully made a bid for the INP service will be formed to discuss the details of the FSA and the relevant performance standards.
(d) Funding Mode
To enable the operating agencies to have the maximum flexibility in managing their resources geared towards the needs of the target groups, the INPs would be subvented by way of lump sum grants with a fixed provision at the level of the standard cost of a NLCDP team.
4. In line with the resources available, 6 target areas will be provided with INP service in early 1999. Invitation to operate the 6 projects had been circulated to all NGOs in mid October and a total of 33 applications were received. The applications were examined and discussed by the Welfare Service Allocation Committee. The Subventions and Lotteries Fund Advisory Committee has also endorsed the allocation arrangements.
Concerns about the INP service
5. The Administration notes that some concerns about the INP service have been expressed by some interested parties, in particular, on the definitions of the three target groups and the proposed monitoring and evaluation mechanism. Some concerned parties have also suggested that the Administration should consider setting up a steering committee on INPs, similar to the one for NLCDPs, and to extend INPs to other old urban areas. These concerns are addressed below.
Definition for the Three Target Groups
6. The Executive Council decided that INPs would be introduced in targeted old urban areas to exclusively serve the target groups of new arrivals, the elderly and the low income families. For operational purpose, it was necessary to have definitions for the target groups such that the NGOs undertaking the service will have the same interpretation of their target service recipients to ensure common work focus and service output. The definition of the three target groups would be further refined in the future working meetings with the participation of HKCSS and the operating agencies of INPs.
Setting up of Steering Committee on INPs
7. INP service is different from NLCDP service. NLCDPs were carried out in deprived and transient communities where the provision of social welfare facilities and services were non-existent or inadequate. Upon clearance of the service areas, the NLCDP teams concerned would have to be reprovisioned to other priority areas qualified under the existing policy. Hence, a coordinating committee would be necessary to meet regularly to discuss matters related to the identification of service areas as well as the priority for reprovisioning of service teams. For INPs, the scope and the eligibility criteria of the target service areas have already been established by the Review Group on Pilot NLCDPs in Old Urban Areas which included members of HKCSS. Their recommendations had been accepted by the Government and endorsed by the Executive Council in July this year. Moreover, the issue of reprovisioning does not arise for INPs.
8. A task group comprising members from SWD and HKCSS as well as NGOs will be formed to work out the Funding and Service Agreement and the relevant performance indicators. Issues of concern raised by the welfare sector will be sorted out in the process to ensure the smooth implementation of INPs.
9. In view of the above considerations, the Administration has concluded that it would be unnecessary to set up a steering committee on INPs.
10. As one of the subvented services, INPs will also be subject to the existing monitoring mechanism applicable to all welfare services subvented by SWD. Moreover, district staff of SWD would maintain regular contacts with NGOs operating these projects to ensure effective delivery of the service.
11. As the continuation of INP service for a given area will be critically reviewed after the 3-year term, it is necessary to design an evaluation mechanism for INPs. The evaluation mechanism of INPs would include two aspects, namely the physical condition of the target areas, taking into account the welfare service provision in the locality, and the effectiveness of the project. A review of the targeted areas will be conducted after the projects have commenced operation for a reasonable period of time, using the same eight indicators for the identification of targeted areas. In the meantime, district staff of SWD will keep under review the welfare provision in the locality. In order to monitor the effectiveness of the projects, SWD will build in outcome indicators in the projects in consultation with the operating agencies.
Target Service Areas of INPs
12. The Review Group on the Pilot NLCDPs in Old Urban Areas had established the eligibility criteria of target service areas. These criteria include high concentration of low income and disadvantaged groups; overcrowding living conditions; existence of long-standing social and environmental problems; an area with a population of 15,000 - 25,000 and the level of provision of welfare services in the neighbourhood according to planning standards. Based on these criteria, the Review Group had identified 12 targeted old urban areas for the implementation of INPs. INPs are meant to strengthen the outreaching efforts of the existing welfare services in the old urban areas. Not all old urban areas are in need of INP service and such service will only be provided to areas which meet the eligibility criteria.
13. The implementation of INPs is in good progress with six INPs scheduled to commence operation in January 1999. The Administration will continue to work closely with HKCSS and NGOs concerned to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of INP service.
Social Welfare Department