1.1 For many years in the past the Government had adopted a Five-Year Plan (FYP) mechanism for planning our social welfare services. FYPs were basically working documents to monitor the extent to which the policy objectives relating to various welfare services as set out in the White Paper(s)1
were achieved. FYPs also set specific targets for
service delivery within the policy framework. As part of the monitoring mechanism, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) conducted periodical reviews on the FYPs (annually from 1973 to 1984 and biennially from 1985 to 1998) before submitting them to Social Welfare Advisory Committee (SWAC) for endorsement and then publication.
1.2 However, with the rapid and ongoing social and economic changes in the last few decades, FYP was considered rather rigid in terms of target-setting for, and monitoring of, service provision. Experience indicated that FYP lacked the flexibility to cope with the ever-changing needs of our society and was unable to respond to our welfare demands in a timely manner. It was therefore discontinued after 1999.
1.3 The Government has since adopted a more flexible approach to welfare planning, consulting the sector from time to time on the priorities for the immediate and medium terms. For instance, in 2004, the Administration and the welfare sector discussed the strategic framework for social welfare development and agreed on broad strategies such as “social investment” and “tripartite partnership”. Apart from consultative sessions organised by the bureau, there are regular consultations at the district level. In particular, SWD has introduced a District Welfare Planning Protocol and developed evidence-based social indicators to help prioritise district welfare needs. There is also a cross-service co-ordination mechanism to facilitate district welfare planning. Such flexible approach is also in line with the implementation of the Lump Sum Grant form of subvention since 2001...
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