The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance helps people on social welfare payments to become self-employed and start their own business. Within this scheme, you can keep 100% of your social welfare payment for the first year and 75% for the second year, for a maximum of two years. The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) is a payment made by the Department of Social Protection to people aged under 66. 

To avail of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance: 

You must get written permission from a Department of Social Protection Case Worker and a Local Development Company and be receiving Jobseekers’ Benefit or Allowance continuously for a minimum of 9 months. 


Receiving one of the following continuously for a minimum of 9 months: 

  • Jobseeker’s Transitional payment (JST) 
  • One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) 
  • Blind Pension 
  • Disability Allowance 
  • Carer’s Allowance (full rate) – having stopped caring duties 
  • Deserted Wife’s Benefit/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 


Qualify for Illness Benefit: 3 out of last 5 years in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment. 


A combination of the below for a minimum of 9 months: 

  • One-Parent Family Payment 
  • Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment 
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance  

The procedure starts with the new applicant meeting with a Case Officer, who will run a quick preliminary assessment to establish the eligibility for the scheme along with the progression plan. When the assessment is done, the officer will refer the applicant to a Local Development Company (LDC).  

Here, LDC will talk the applicant through the options available and the viability of the business idea will be analysed. The LDC will also support the applicant with preparing the business plan for the new enterprise. Finally, the Case Officer will receive the business plan, review it, and send a recommendation to the Deciding Officer. 

When the applicant is accepted onto the BTWEA scheme, the new business can benefit of the assistance from the Case Officer and tutoring from LDC for the entire 2 years of the scheme. Also, the accepted applicant must register as self-employed with the Revenue Commissioners. 

To start applying for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, you must download and fill the BTW2 application form and return it to the Case Officer in your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. 

Alongside getting to keep your social welfare payment for 2 years, once you are on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, you may also be entitled to up to €2,500 in any 2-year period through the Enterprise Support Grant. This grant provides support for the following: 

  • Accountancy and related services 
  • Advertising 
  • Marketing 
  • Business Equipment 
  • Signage etc. 

With the Enterprise Support Grants, you must contribute 10-20% of the total cost yourself, you must submit a business plan and provide evidence of cost (quotations from two suppliers or, if a single supplier, the reason).

On the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, you can keep the following secondary benefits you are currently in receipt of, these include:  


  • Fuel Allowance 
  • Medical Card  
  • Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance 
  • Rent Supplement 

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is an administrative scheme, which means that applicants cannot appeal a decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. However, you can request the Department of Social Protection to review your application if you believe you have been wrongly declined the allowance.