TAIPEI–The number of low-income households and individuals in Taiwan reached 146,000 and 357,000, respectively, as of the end of 2012, up 13.8 percent and 13.7 percent from a year earlier, statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior Saturday showed.
As of the end of 2012, the country had 89,000 low-to-medium income households (also known as the near poor) totaling 282,000 people, according to the MOI figures. The MOI said a total of 235,000 low income and low-to-medium income households totaling 639,000 people were approved for financial aid under the amended Social Assistance Act, representing 2.9 percent and 2.7 percent of the nation’s total households and the total population.
The Social Assistance Act, which took effect in July 2011, lowered the income threshold to define the poor and near-poor in Taiwan, making more people eligible for financial subsidies.
The number of people applying for aid under the new definition continued to rise in 2012, accounting for some of the increase in those identified in Taiwan as poor, the ministry said.
The three cities with the most low-income families and individuals approved for social assistance as of the end of 2012 were Kaohsiung, New Taipei, and Taipei City.
Taitung, Penghu and Pingtung counties had the highest percentage of individuals and households receiving low-income subsidies.
The MOI said that in 2012, cities and counties around the country spent a total of NT$11.5 billion (US$387.34 million) on social welfare, including NT$10.98 billion on financial aid for the poor and near poor.
The spending on social assistance increased NT$2.93 billion year-on-year, with subsidies for living support increasing NT$2.8 billion.