By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The Government has decided to raise the amount of rental allowance for households on the two social housing waiting lists by up to MOP 500 per month, and at the same time relax the income restrictions on applicants.
The Executive Council announced an administrative regulation yesterday which will extend the rental allowance scheme for one more year until August 31, 2011.
The scheme was launched in 2008 to ease the households’ financial burden of accommodation while waiting to be allocated a social housing unit.
According to the spokesman of the Executive Council Leong Heng Teng yesterday, the administrative regulation also increases the monthly allowance amount by MOP 300 to MOP 1,050 for a one- or two-member household, and by MOP 500 to MOP 1,600 for a household with three members or more.
In addition, Leong told the press conference at the Government Headquarters that the income caps imposed on the households wishing to apply for the rental allowance will be raised.
The new monthly income limit on a one-member family is MOP 6,000, up from MOP 4,480.
As for a three-member, five-member and seven-member or above family, the ceilings have been raised to MOP 11,300 (from MOP 7,070), MOP 14,300 (MOP 9,430) and MOP 17,500 (MOP 11,070) respectively.
The spokesman said the relaxation “meets the actual situation in society” and allows more families in need to benefit from the allowance.
From 2008 to September 15, 2010, the Government has spent a total of MOP 45 million on the scheme.
Among the 5,675 households on the waiting list during that period, Leong said only 2,940 applications were received and at the end 2,507 of them were approved.
The Housing Bureau on September 1 this year announced the second social housing waiting list, adding another 4,798 households into the queue.
If all the households accepted on the two waiting lists receive the rental allowance, it is expected that it will cost the Government some MOP 193 million per year, based on the calculation of a three-member family.
Extra nursery places created
Meanwhile, the Executive Council will promulgate an administrative regulation to expand the class size of 16 local child day care centres from 25 to 28 pupils.
The expansion will be able to immediately create an additional 151 places in those nurseries, Leong Heng Teng said.
Yet, the activity space for each child remains at two square metres.
Due to the space limitation, among the existing 32 child day care centres in Macau, only 16 have the condition to enrol more pupils.
According to the Social Welfare Bureau’s estimation, Macau needs to add 2,742 nursery places by 2015 in order to meet the demand as a result of the growing birth rate in the territory.
However, despite the bureau’s four different plans to work on the issue, only 1,800 places are expected to be created by the end of 2015.