The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme encourages people
getting certain social welfare payments to become self-employed. If you take
part in the Back to
Work Enterprise Allowance scheme (pdf) you can keep a percentage of your
social welfare payment for up to 2 years.
A new Back to Work Scheme called the Short-Term Enterprise
Allowance started in May 2009. 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.
You can qualify for a Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) if you
- Setting up as self-employed in a business that has been approved in
advance in writing by a Jobs Facilitator or Local Development Company (LDC)
(see 'How to apply' below)
- Getting one of the qualifying payments listed below for at least 12
*Having an underlying entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance means that you
would pass the means test and other criteria. If you meet the critera 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
You may also be considered for the BTWEA if you are:
- A dependent
adult of a person who is eligible to claim the BTWEA. You may qualify
if the person partaking in the BTWEA scheme ceases employment or
self-employment before exhausting their entitlement. The spouse or partner
may avail of entitlement under the scheme for the time remaining on the
original claim. 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
- A person released from prison who satisfies the eligibility criteria for
Periods of time spent in FÁS and Failte Ireland training courses, Community
Employment, Tús, Social Economy Programme, Job Initiative, Rural Social
Scheme, VTOS, Teagasc, FIT and Back to Education Schemes are accepted as
qualifying periods provided you were entitled to a qualifying payment before
starting on the study or training. The Department of Social Protection also
counts time spent on the Community Services Programme provided you were getting
a qualifying social welfare payment for at least half of the qualifying period.
Time spent on Supplementary Welfare Allowance or in direct provision can
count towards the qualifying period for BTWEA as long as you establish an
entitlement to a relevant payment before starting the BTWEA.
If you have previously participated in the BTWEA scheme and exhausted your
entitlement, you can participate a second time after at least 5 years.
Find out more about the qualifying
periods for Back to Work Enterprise Allowance.
Help starting a business
The Technical Assistance and Training (TAT) fund is designed to help people
getting the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance with certain costs
involved starting a business. You do not have an automatic
entitlement to TAT. Assistance from this fund must be approved 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
Employment grants from a County Enterprise Board (CEB) or Local Development
Companies do not affect your entitlement to the Back to Work Enterprise
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
- 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
- 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
You can keep your secondary benefits (apart from Rent or Mortgage Interest
Supplement) for as long as you are getting the Back to Work Enterprise
You should check with the Department
of Social Protection'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.
Secondary benefits include:
The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is paid directly into your bank or
building society account each week. The 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. You do not have
to pay tax or PRSI on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance but you
may have to pay tax and PRSI on any income you get from self-employment.
How to apply
To apply for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, complete application form BTW
If you live in an area covered by a Local Development Company (LDC)
(sometimes known as local partnership companies) you should return form BTW 2
to the Enterprise Officer in the LDC. If you do not live in a
LDC Area, you should return form BTW 2 to the Jobs Facilitator in your social
welfare local office.
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 LDC or Department of Social Protection.
If you are accepted on to the Back to Work 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.
Appealing a decision
The BTWEA is an administrative scheme. This means that you cannot appeal a
decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. However you can ask the
Department of Social Protection to review your application if you feel that you
have been wrongly refused the allowance.