Employment Support Scheme: the final outcome
13 February 2022
13 months after the last update, and following a second request from Webb-site under the Code on Access to Information, the final lists of approved applications for the misconceived Employment Support Scheme were published on Friday, 11-Feb-2022.
We have processed the files, loaded the data into our system, and can now reveal the grand total of the handouts was a budget-breaking HK$90.51bn (US$11.60bn), of which $45.06bn was in Phase 1 (covering June to August 2020) and $45.45bn was in Phase 2 (September to November 2020). All that an employer had to do to receive this benefit was apply, and maintain headcount during the relevant periods. Not at all difficult if you were running a supermarket chain, a cleaning firm, a construction company or almost any kind of business except a small number of subsectors such as tourism, bars and gyms - and there have been additional subsidy schemes for several of those.
The scheme exceeded its original budget of HK$81bn which, unlike our total, included administration costs. So you are looking at an overrun of about HK$10bn. It was by far the biggest handout in HK corporate history. A furlough scheme, to compensate those who had been put out of work by Government mandates such as bar and gym closures, would have cost a small fraction of that, perhaps only 5% to 10%. The whole scheme really put the ESS in largESSe.
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