If you have been unemployed for a while and are finding it difficult to secure employment, setting up your own business could be a possibility that appeals to you. The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme can support you with becoming self-employed.
Applying for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme
What is the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme?
If your application is approved, your new enterprise can avail of the support from a Case Officer and mentoring from a Local Development Company over the two years of the scheme.
You don’t pay any tax on your welfare payments while on the scheme, though you may have to pay tax on your business earnings.
How much is Back to Work Enterprise Allowance?
The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance lets you start a business and keep most of your unemployment payments (including increases for a qualified adult, and qualified children) for up to two years. You can keep 100% of the payment for year one and 75% for year two.
Can I receive other support while getting the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance?
While you are getting the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, you can get financial support for business costs through the Enterprise Support Grant (ESG) scheme.
You can also keep any extras from your Jobseeker’s Benefit, such as a medical card entitlement, as long as you continue to meet their conditions. If you’re receiving Rent Supplement, you should discuss how it may be affected with the Department of Social Protection’s representative at your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
Am I eligible for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance?
You may qualify for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance if you are setting up as self-employed in a new business. The business must be approved in advance in writing by a Case Officer and a Local Development Company.
You also must meet one of the following requirements:
- You have been receiving one of the qualifying payments listed below for at least nine months
- You have been receiving Illness Benefit for at least three of the last five years
- You have been receiving a combination of One-Parent Family Payment/Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment/Jobseeker’s Allowance continuously for nine months
- You may also be considered if you have been recently released from prison and meet the criteria for the scheme. Time spent in prison can count towards the qualifying period for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance if you establish an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment before becoming self-employed
What are the qualifying payments for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance?
The qualifying payments for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance are:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Jobseeker’s Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment
- One-Parent Family Payment
- Blind Pension
- Disability Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance (full rate) – having stopped caring duties
- Deserted Wife’s Benefit /Deserted Wife’s Allowance
- Farm Assist – the new business cannot be in relation to the farm holding or the continuation of an existing business
- Invalidity Pension
- Incapacity Supplement
- Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-contributory) Pension
Can I get the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance if I am receiving the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)?
If you are getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and you would like to set up a new business, the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance may be available to you. You will need to apply to transfer to a jobseeker’s payment in order to be eligible but you do not need to meet the nine month qualifying period.
How do I apply for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance?
The application form for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is the BTW2. You can either print it off or pick up a copy at your local Intreo or social welfare office.
The form will ask you for details of your business proposal. It’s a good idea to include a separate business plan that lays out in detail what you want your business to do and how you intend to do it. This will show you are serious and passionate about getting started.
It is also a good idea to consider attending a Start Your Own Business course. Your local Intreo office will have details of government-run entrepreneurship courses you can take part in to improve your business skills.
What happens once I apply for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance?
Once you’ve completed the form and written your business plan, you can send it to the Case Officer in your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. The Case Officer will review your application and discuss your business plan with you. You may then be referred to your Local Development Company. You must not take up self-employment until you have received written approval from the department.
If you do get approved you will need to register as self-employed with the Revenue Commissioners. Remember to contact the Department of Social Protection immediately if you ever take up different employment or stop being self-employed for any reason.
If you weren’t approved, you can change your plan and try again as long as you are still eligible. You can also contact the Department of Social Protection if you feel your application was unfairly refused.
Can I receive support once my Back to Work Enterprise Allowance ends?
When your entitlement to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance comes to an end, you may still be eligible for extra support. Find out more about Jobseeker’s Allowance and self-employment.
Find out more about Back to Work Enterprise Allowance.
Alternatively, if you have lost your job, are receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit and want to start your own business, you might qualify for the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance. The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance is paid instead of your Jobseeker’s Benefit for a maximum of nine months. Find out more about the Short Term Enterprise Allowance.
Need more information?
We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.