President Sheikh Mohamed has announced a Dh28 billion ($7.6bn) social support package to provide lower income Emirati families with subsidies to pay for essentials including fuel, food and utilities.

The President said the existing social support scheme for citizens would be restructured to raise annual financial assistance from Dh2.7 billion to Dh5 billion.

The initiative, led by the Ministry of Community Development, offers aid for housing, food, fuel, electricity and water, in addition to temporary financial support for unemployed citizens over the age of 45.

The programme sets out a series of allowances for Emiratis.

All of the measures are for Emirati households with a total household income of less than Dh25,000.

Fuel subsidies

The scheme aims to mitigate the impact of rising fuel costs, providing an 85 per cent discount on fuel prices above Dh2.1 per litre.

The head of the family will receive this monthly subsidy on up to 300 litres, while a working wife receives an additional 200 litres. The head of the family will be granted 400 litres if the wife does not have employment.

Officials have yet to state whether this will be done by presenting a card at a petrol station, for example, or in another way.

Electricity and water

Eligible Emiratis will be granted a 50 per cent subsidy for electricity consumption of less than 4,000 kilowatts, and a 50 per cent monthly water subsidy for water consumption below 26,000 gallons.

Food supplement allowance

The government will bear 75 per cent of the inflation of food prices for lower income Emiratis “to meet their living requirements and provide them with a decent life,” news agency Wam said.

How the discount scheme will work was not stated.

University education

The new university education provides an allowance offDh3,200 per month for outstanding high school pupils and those enrolled in university.

Among the new allocations included in the social support programme for the family, is the “University Education Allowance” for outstanding students.

This is designed to encourage children to enrol in university education, where the value of the allowance is Dh3,200 per month.

The allowance also includes regular students in diploma and university education programs according to the allowances of children for each family (between Dh2,400 and Dh800 and with a maximum age of 25 years for the student.

Unemployed citizens over the age of 45

A fixed subsidy is granted ranging from Dh2,000 to Dh5,000 per month, according to age, for unemployed citizens, in addition to other allowances in the event that the unemployed person is the head of a citizen family.

Job seekers

This allowance extends for a period of 6 months, and amounts to Dh5,000 dirhams per month for each beneficiary, regardless of age. The allowance offers financial assistance while looking for employment.

Accommodation

The programme includes a provision for housing ranging between Dh1,500 dirhams per month and Dh2,500 per month to pay for private accommodation until a family obtains government housing. Applicants who live with parents or any other family are entitled to 60 per cemt of these amounts.

The support does not apply to those who have any other form of government housing benefit, or they own a house registered in their name.

The benefit stops when the applicant secures government housing.

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