DUBAI // Thousands of needy Emiratis will receive benefits and financial counselling to get them on their feet and moving towards independence in a new programme.
The Dubai Financial Benefits Law will regulate financial assistance while trying to discourage dependence, said Khaled Al Kamda, director general of the Community Development Authority.
“The whole purpose of this is to take families from protection and care to being independent,” Mr Al Kamda said.
The law was issued in October by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. The authority and Dubai Executive Council yesterday provided details of the system, which will be administered by the CDA and aims to reach 6,000 families.
The Ministry of Social Affairs provides financial aid for the needy, which will be supplemented by the CDA, not replaced.
“This is really different to the social welfare at the ministry,” Mr Al Kamda said. “We will complement the effort at the ministry.
“We’re not here to give the families financial aid only, we are here to plan for the family.”
To be eligible, Emiratis must earn less than Dh10,700 a month and families of two less than Dh13,700. Dh1,000 of income will be added to the maximum for each additional family member.
Those applying must live in Dubai and provide family books.
The income levels were chosen based on a study of household spending that found expenditures in Dubai are higher than in the rest of the UAE, Mr Al Kamda said.
The policy allows more flexibility in income for families with specific needs, such as those with disabled children or elderly relatives.
“We will have a field social worker visit the applicant at home to do a thorough study on the family and the needs of the family,” Mr Al Kamda said.
A CDA case manager will design a plan for the families, including appropriate financial assistance and a strategy for the future.
“Within that we look at financial planning for the family to teach the family how to do budgeting, how to create a ledger book for saving,” Mr Al Kamda said.
The CDA employs 13 case workers supported by 10 field researchers.
The agency has already introduced the law through a pilot project this year, conducting research on 409 families. Of those, 116 were eligible.
Depending on the family’s needs, aid can be provided in five ways: monthly; on an emergency basis to cover sudden problems, capped at Dh25,000; a one-time payment to help families get on their feet, capped at Dh50,000; a no-interest loan, capped at Dh100,000; or through temporary housing.
Mr Al Kamda said there was no limit to how long beneficiaries could receive monthly assistance.
But if they did not adhere to their plan, they could lose the benefits.
Mr Al Kamda gave the example of an employed recipient who stopped working without cause.
“If he quit the job without a good reason, we stop their benefits,” he said. “We do not want to create a society dependent on social welfare.”
The law also provides for the establishment of a Social Solidarity Fund to support the system.
Contributions will be gathered through Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, zakat from Islamic banks and through individual donations.
“Really, it’s based on promoting the spirit of social welfare among all of society,” Mr Al Kamda said.
Emiratis seeking benefits should register at CDA service centres. The CDA can be contacted on 800-2121.