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City looks to boost welfare for the elderly

SHANGHAI is exploring various means such as providing public welfare funds through lottery sales as subsidies and government service purchases to encourage social forces such as non-profit organizations to provide services for the growing number of elderly people, but more subsidies are still needed, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said today.

The city invests nearly 80 million yuan (US$12 million) of subsidies from public welfare funds through lottery sales every year to help non-profit organizations provide service for seniors or establish nursing homes, said Ma Yili, director of the bureau. There were also cases of individuals receiving venture capital investment after passing assessments to set up seniors' homes.

However, there is so far no preferential policies to encourage foreign investment in the seniors' service field although Shanghai eagerly welcomes foreign capital to get involved in the sector as it is still a new move to tackle the problem, Ma said.

Regulations were relaxed last year to allow foreign investment in the seniors' service field, but only in joint venture form with Chinese firms. To date, the response was not good in Shanghai as few players have expressed willingness to step into the area.

Meanwhile, the number of seniors' homes receiving subsidies is low, and the amount of subsidies they receive every year is also slim, Ma said.

Shanghai plans to add 125,000 beds at senior's homes by the end of 2015. The city had registered 631 homes for the elderly with 100,200 beds by the end of 2011.

Only 3 percent of Shanghai seniors who meet certain criteria are expected to spend their old age in retirement homes.

By the end of 2015, the city is expected to have over 4.3 million seniors aged above 60, occupying nearly 30 percent of the overall registered population.


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