Danish ministers: welfare recipients must learn Danish

denmarkOfficials in Copenhagen have introduced a measure that will require welfare recipients to learn the Danish language in order to receive benefits.

Immigration minister Karen Hækkerup told the Politiken newspaper “We have closed our eyes and let them sit at home behind their curtains. We have paid them a cheque without setting any demands. There’s nothing wrong with supporting people, but it’s not ok that people have been left to their own devices.”

Officials said the move is part of an effort to help better equip recipients that are unable to participate in standard government employment schemes because their skills fall too short of the current labour market. Recent studies showed that females from non-Western origins comprised the largest group of such welfare beneficiaries.

Mette Frederiksen, the country’s minister of integration, told the media “Many of these women are incredibly capable and arrived in Denmark after fleeing from war and destruction, and managed to bring up their children despite it all. Many have ended up becoming marginalised because they have passively received benefits for so many years. This reform will set demands and expectations of them,” the Politiken newspaper reports.

However, officials from the opposition Venstre party said that although the measures could help, they are merely a repair effort due to the current government’s mismanagement of the situation.

Employment minister Inger Støjberg said on behalf of Venstre, “The government has created a labour market in which fewer immigrants work, and then they try to repair the damage. I would rather have immigrants working than sitting in classrooms,” the Ritzau news agency reports.