The government on Tuesday defended the speed at which the administration is moving to give out a one-off subsidy for needy families it announced in August, saying a complete new mechanism had to be set up for this.
The aid which ranges from HK$4,500 for single people to HK$15,500 for five-or-more-person households is meant for those on low-incomes but who do not benefit from other welfare schemes.
The Carrie Lam administration has said it expects the money to be handed over by July next year.
Lawmaker Tony Tse raised the issue at Legco's home affairs panel, asking why the roll-out was taking so long, with applications for the aid not accepted until next July.
Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong said they are already working as quickly as they can.
He told lawmakers they had to set up completely new mechanism involving 200 NGOs as this will be a one-off payment that will be given through the Community Care Fund.
Law said there were no staff to handle the subsidy as it is not a regular programme.
"We are talking about 100,000 households. The secretariat had to find a temporary office and they had to hire a group of people. And they had to provide training to these recruits because they are not regular staff."
"And we also need to use some software to help us do the vetting and carry out the administrative work. It will take time for the software to be out together," the official said.
Law told lawmaker Michael Luk that giving out the subsidy will not have an effect on rent levels as it is just a one-off payment and he rejected Ray Chan's suggestion to make the aid a regular programme.