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A Simple Guide To The Back To Work: Enterprise Allowance

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The Back to Work: Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) is a special welfare payment that allows the recipient to earn any amount on a self employed venture while drawing their dole over a set period of time.

You can qualify for BTWEA Scheme 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 Local Development Company (FRG in this instance).


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

• Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Jobseeker’s Benefit (with an underlying entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance, you do not have to be 12 months in receipt)
• One-Parent Family Payment
• Blind Pension
• Disability Allowance
• Carer’s Allowance (having stopped caring duties)
• Farm Assist
• Invalidity Pension
• Incapacity Supplement
• Pre-Retirement Allowance
• Widow’s/Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension
• Deserted Wife’s Benefit or Allowance
• Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance


• Illness Benefit for 3 or more years

There are other criteria that enable people to apply that are too long to list here but can be viewed at

There are two types of allowance.

Firstly there is the Back to Work: Enterprise Allowance, which entitles the recipient to one year of their present welfare payment and then another year at 75% of their payment. Generally, people who are eligible for this payment are over one year in unemployment and are in receipt of Job Seeker’s Allowance or another long term payment.

Secondly, there is the Short Term: Enterprise Allowance, this provides for 100% of the recipient’s current welfare payment for as long as their PRSI contributions have covered (generally under a year). Generally, people entitled to this category are recently unemployed and are currently living on Job Seeker’s Benefit.

The process is straightforward.

If you are living in the Dublin 8 area, and wish to start your own business (and answer the social welfare criteria listed above) simply drop down to social welfare office on Thomas Street (facing St Catherine’s Church), and enquire about applying for the Back to Work: Enterprise Allowance. Your eligibility will be tested by the facilitator who (if you are eligible) will issue you with a letter stating the form of allowance you can apply for and direct you to the local Community Enterprise Officer.

The Local Community Enterprise Officer is based in the Fountain Resource Group main office in the Presbytery beside St James’s Church. Their role is to assess the viability of the business idea, aid the applicant with their forms and act as the applicant’s guarantor that they have of registered for tax. The complete application should contain a filled in Back to Work: Enterprise Allowance application form, a copy of filled in tax registration form (the original will be sent in by the Enterprise Officer) and a business plan. The business plan does not need to be large and intricate as used for bank loans, as long as it covers the business premise, marketing strategy, business roles (who does what in the business), finances (start up costs, running costs, projections).

Once all the forms have been sent, the application process can take up to 5 weeks for the decision to be sent out to the recipient. Once approved, the applicant can apply for a small grant (the technical assistance grant) to help with capital expenditures, this grant is the value of €500 and any purchases must be agreed with the facilitator. It should be stressed no one is entitled to the grant only entitled to apply, the final decision rests with the facilitator who themselves have to answer to the Department of Social Protection’s criteria. Any applicant cannot also be in part time employment at the same time, the social welfare presumes that any applicant will commit themselves 100% to their business.

There are a number of incentives for people to start up on their own in business in the current climate, for instance, sole traders do not need to pay income tax for the next two years if they register this year.

For further information you can ring Eoghan Brunkard at 01 4532936.

IMAGE: Monopoly pieces spelling ‘start’ – image credit: Jake and Lindsey/Flickr

FRG Enterprise Services

Eoghan Brunkard is one of our two enterprise officers here at the Fountain Resource Group, the only official Department of Social Protection (DSP) enterprise officers for the South Inner City (the Larkin Centre covers the Northside). Since 1991, we have helped over 2,500 clients to start their own businesses via our enterprise services. Click here for more info>

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