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Abu Dhabi’s new benefits programme will deny payments to Emiratis who refuse to work

Abu Dhabi’s new benefits programme will deny payments to Emiratis who refuse to work

The government wants to ensure Emiratis contribute to society

Unemployed Emiratis who refuse to work will be ineligible for a new income-based social assistance system set to be introduced in Abu Dhabi next year.

Under the programme, which is separate to federal level assistance and applies to Emiratis in Abu Dhabi only, financial support for the unemployed will be linked to their job seeking activities.

Citizens will need to accept one of three offers of employment from the government or they will be ineligible for the new benefits. Stay-at-home mothers and those that can prove they are unable to work will still receive their full benefits.

“We don’t want a society that is dependent on social welfare,” The National quoted the chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Community Development, Mugheer Al Khaili, as saying.

The changes come due to concerns some unemployed Emiratis may choose not to work due to the generous payments they receive from the government.

“You will find an Emirati on welfare receiving Dhs8,000 ($2,178) per month. So we don’t want the attitude of ‘why should I work since the salary I receive is only a few thousand more’.”

Instead the new system will aim to provide a safety net for citizens with limited income.

“We are committed to supporting Emiratis with limited income in the emirate by helping them lead productive lives,” Al Khaili said.

The official’s comments come as part of an Abu Dhabi government drive to create 10,000 jobs for Emiratis under a Dhs50bn ($13.61bn) stimulus plan announced by the emirate’s crown prince.

Read: Abu Dhabi crown prince approves Dhs50bn in economic stimulus

Al Khaili said the government did not want a situation where generations of families are dependent on welfare.

The new system is designed to allow families with limited income to achieve a higher quality of life and financial independence.

“We need to prepare our society for the post-oil era and give incentives to people to work hard,” he said.

The first programmes under the new social assistance system are scheduled to be introduced in the first quarter of 2019.

The most recent figures from 2013 show almost 39,000 people in Abu Dhabi received welfare payments, according to the publication.

In April, the UAE Cabinet adopted a Dhs11bn ($2.99bn) social assistance plan following an appeal from an Emirati man in Ras Al Khaimah with nine children who was struggling to make ends meet.

Dubai Media Office said the Dhs11bn would include Dhs3.88bn ($1.05bn) for the elderly, Dhs1.55bn ($422m) for financial and health benefits, Dhs1.8bn ($490m) for people of determination and Dhs183.9m ($50m) for families of prisoners.

Read: UAE approves $3bn of social assistance following radio appeal

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