350k relief applications approved

The Government today said it has completed the processing of all applications under the Temporary Unemployment Relief Scheme with subsidies granted to 350,000 out of 470,000 applicants, far exceeding the original estimate of 300,000 beneficiaries.   The total subsidies amounted to $3.5 billion.   The Government earlier reminded applicants to submit requests for a review of their applications by July 8.   Among the 30,690 requests received by the deadline, around 27,500 applications were granted subsidies after the review while the decision to reject was upheld for about 3,190 applications. Relevant applicants have been notified of the final review results.   Moreover, a lenient approach was adopted throughout the vetting and review process by exercising discretion to approve appropriate cases, the Government explained.   About 120,000 applications were not approved under the lenient arrangements, some of which involve applicants who were found to have breached the terms and conditions of the scheme during sample checking.   The Government will deal with these non-compliant cases in a serious manner. If an applicant, after being granted the subsidy, is found to be ineligible or to have breached any other terms and conditions of the scheme, including making misrepresentations on the employment status or income level, a clawback of subsidies disbursed will be demanded.   Police have also recently taken actions on 39 fraud cases where the suspects provided false information when applying for the scheme.   The scheme is a targeted and temporary measure to provide a one-off subsidy of $10,000 to low to middle-income people who have lost their jobs due to the fifth wave of the epidemic and tightening of social distancing measures with an aim of reducing their financial stress before they find another job.   As the vetting and review of applications have been completed, the scheme's hotline and email box have ceased to operate.

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