Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

Information

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme encourages people getting certain social welfare payments to become self-employed. People taking part in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme (pdf) keep a percentage of their social welfare payment for 2 years.

There is also a scheme called the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance. There is no qualifying period for the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance. You can get immediate access to the allowance if you meet the qualifying conditions.

The website selfemployedsupports.ie has information on the services and entitlements available if you are self-employed and your income is reduced.

Rules

You can qualify for a Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) if you are:

  1. Setting up as self-employed in a business that has been approved in advance in writing by a Jobs Facilitator or Partnership Company (see 'How to apply' below)

    and

  2. Getting one of the qualifying payments listed below for at least 12 months

*If you have been getting Jobseeker's Benefit you must have been unemployed for 2 years to qualify. However, if you have an underlying entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance (this means that you would pass the means test and other criteria) and have been getting Jobseeker's Benefit for 12 months you can qualify for the allowance. Signing on for unemployment credits following your Jobseeker's Benefit does not count towards the qualifying period.

You may also be considered for the BTWEA if you are:

  • A dependent adult of a person who is eligible to claim the BTWEA. This involves the person who is eligible for the BTWEA transferring his or her entitlements to their spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. (In other words, the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant becomes self-employed and the original claimant becomes the qualified adult on the BTWEA). If the original claimant is entitled to credits, he or she can continue to claim them. However BTWEA cannot be paid at the same time as another social welfare payment so if the original claimant (now a qualified adult) decides to claim another payment you must stop claiming BTWEA.
  • A person released from prison who satisfies the eligibility criteria for the scheme

Periods of time spent in FÁS Training, Community Employment, the Community Services Programme, Job Initiative, CERT, Teagasc, FIT and Back to Education Schemes are accepted as periods of unemployment.

Time spent on Supplementary Welfare Allowance or in Direct Provision can count towards the qualifying period for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance provided you are entitled to a qualifying payment before starting on the scheme.

If you have previously participated in the BTWEA scheme and exhausted your entitlement, you can participate a second time after a period of at least 5 years has elapsed.

More information on the qualifying periods for BWEA is available on the Department of Social Protection website.

Help starting a business

The Technical Assistance and Training (TAT) Fund is designed to help people getting the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short Term Enterprise Allowance with certain costs involved starting a business. You do not have an automatic entitlement to TAT; assistance from this fund must be sanctioned by the Jobs Facilitator in your Social Welfare Local Office. Payments from the fund must be made directly to the provider of the service.

More information is available about becoming self-employed.

Employment grants

Employment grants from a County Enterprise Board (CEB) or from LEADER companies will not affect your entitlement to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short Term Enterprise Allowance

If you have previously participated in the BTWEA scheme and exhausted your entitlement, you can participate a second time after at least 5 years.

Rates

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

If you qualify for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance you can keep the following portion of your social welfare payment, including increases for a qualified adult and qualified children, for a maximum of 2 years:

  • 100% for the 1st year
  • 75% for the 2nd year

If you took part in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme before 1 May 2009, you could keep the following portions of your social welfare payment, including increases for a qualified adult and qualified children:

  • 100% of your weekly social welfare payment for the 1st year
  • 75% for the 2nd year
  • 50% for the 3rd year
  • 25% for the 4th year

Short-term Enterprise Allowance

If you qualify for the Short-term Enterprise Allowance, you will keep 100% of your weekly social welfare payment, including increases for a qualified adult and qualified children. It will be paid to you for a maximum of 1 year. It will end when your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit ends (that is, at either 6 months or 9 months).

Secondary benefits

You will also keep any 'secondary benefits' (apart from Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement). You should check with the Department's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer in your local Health Centre to see how your Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected by your participation in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme or Short-term Enterprise Allowance.

Secondary benefits

Secondary benefits include:

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or Short-term Enterprise Allowance will be paid directly into your bank or building society account on a weekly basis. The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or Short-term Enterprise Allowance cannot be paid into a mortgage account.

You must contact the Department of Social Protection immediately if your self-employment ends or you take up employment.

How to apply

To apply for either the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short-term Enterprise Allowance, complete application form BTW 2.

If you live in a Partnership Area, you should return form BTW 2 to the Local Partnership Company for referral to the Partnership's Enterprise Officer. If you live in a non-Partnership Area, you should return form BTW 2 to your Social Welfare Local Office for referral to the Department of Social Protection' Jobs Facilitator.

The Enterprise Officer or Jobs Facilitator will look at your business proposal and may discuss certain aspects of it with you. You must not take up self-employment until you have received written approval from the Partnership Company or the Department of Social Protection.

If you are accepted on to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or Short-term Enterprise Allowance, you must register as self-employed with the Revenue Commissioners. You can find further information on self-employment from your local tax office.

Further information

For more information on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance contact:

The Department of Social Protection

Dept.:
Employment Support Services
Line 1:
Social Welfare Services Office
Line 2:
Government Buildings
Line 3:
Shannon Lodge
Line 4:
Carrick-on-Shannon
County:
Leitrim
Country:
IRELAND
Tel:
(071) 967 2698
Locall:
1890 927 999
Homepage:
http://www.welfare.ie/
Wheelchair Access:

You can also get more information from your local Partnership Company or your Social Welfare Local Office.

Last Updated: 10/10/2013

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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.

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