October 28th, 2015 - Pat Breen


• If you have been on Social Welfare for at least 9 months you can claim Back to Work Enterprise

Allowance when you start a business. It allows you retain part of your Social Welfare payments, tax free, for
2 years (100%, 75%), obtain support grants up to e2,500 and retain your secondary benefits. You can also apply for
an exemption from income tax for 2 years up to a max of e40,000 per year.

• A Short-term Enterprise Allowance can be claimed by anyone who has been made redundant or who is eligible
for Jobseeker’s Benefit. It allows you to retain benefit until it expires (max 9 months). If you have been on Social
Welfare for at least three months, you can retain your payment and secondary benefits but the scheme will not
extend the duration of your entitlements.

• Help with a start-up is also available from the Local Enterprise Office (Clare – 065 6821616). Microfinance Ireland (Tel: 2601007) can lend up to e25,000 to a person who can’t get bank finance.

• JobsPlus: is designed to help those who have been at least 12 months out of work in the past 18 months. It gives
an employer who recruits you a e72-per-week subsidy for 2 years (e96-per-week if you have been unemployed for more than 24 months), provided the job provides work on at least 4 days and 30 hours per week.
Visit www.jobsplus.ie to register online.
• Springboard: offers free full and part-time certificate, degree or post-graduate courses in Institutes of Education to those
signing on at the time of starting, and allows retention of welfare payments. See www.springboardcourses.ie
• Back to Education Allowance (from Dept of Social Protection) or a VTOS Allowance (ETB) is claimable if you are undertaking a full-time course leading to a recognised certificate at second, third or post-graduate level, and are:
• at least 21 years of age (18, if out of education for at least 2 years), 24 if post-graduate and
• on Social Welfare for at least 3 months (for Second Level), 6 months (VTOS), or 9 months (for Third Level). You
cannot qualify directly from Jobseeker’s Benefit unless you qualify for another payment (e.g. Assistance). However,
if you have been awarded Statutory Redundancy, you can qualify immediately but must start the course within
12 months.
Qualifying Parents (including lone parents) will also get e500 Cost of Education Allowance. If you are on these schemes, you must apply for a waiver of the Student Contribution under the third level grant. Part-time VTOS options can be taken up without affecting Social Welfare entitlements subject to approval. Earnings from part-time work while studying could affect your payment.
• A means-tested grant towards the costs of attending college full-time is available from SUSI.ie. If you are dependent on your parents, your income (if any, in excess of e4,500) is assessed along with your parents’ gross income. The grant covers:
Upper Income Limit 2017/18
(fewer than four children)
– Special Rate Maintenance (e2,375) and Student Contribution (e3,000) e23,200
– Standard Maintenance (e1,215) and Student Contribution (e3,000) e39,875
(with part-entitlement graded down with rising income to:)
– Half Student Contribution (e1,500) e 54,240
It covers courses from PLC, diploma to undergraduate degree levels in approved colleges in Ireland/EU. The maintenance payments are higher if your college is over 45 kilometres from your home (e5,915 (Special Rate), e3,025 (Full Rate)). To qualify for the special rate, one of those whose income is being assessed must be on FIS or a Social Welfare payment. For each additional family member in college, about e4,700 is added to the other means-tests. Families with four or more dependent children also have higher upper income limits. If you are over 23, and have been living independently of your parents from 1 October of the year before entry onto the course, the means-test will apply to your own income (and that of your partner if any).
Postgraduates whose reckonable income is under e23,200 will qualify in 2017/18 for tuition fees up to a maximum of e6,270 and maintenance grant of e2,375 (e5,915 over 45k). A contribution towards fees of e2,000 applies to those with reckonable income up to e31,500 (fewer than four children).