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Social Welfare Benefits

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 19 May 2021

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Questions (153, 154)

Neale Richmond


153. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has considered implementing a pathway for those on the pandemic unemployment payment to go onto the back to work enterprise allowance to support those on the pandemic unemployment payment that have started their own business during the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26745/21]

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Neale Richmond


154. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Social Protection the options for those on the pandemic unemployment payment that want to apply for the back to work enterprise allowance; if they can apply for the allowance with the security of having their pandemic unemployment payment continue if their application is not successful; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26746/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 and 154 together.

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme offers support for people who are long-term unemployed and who are interested in self-employment as a route to entering the labour market. The scheme plays a vital role in supporting the development of new enterprises for the long term unemployed and is payable for a 24 month period from the commencement of their new business. The scheme is not designed to support existing business ventures.

The BTWEA was extended in response to Covid-19 where the qualifying period was waived for people applying from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to start a new business. The BTWEA is payable at the weekly rate of Jobseekers Allowance appropriate to the individual. The BTWEA applicant can retain their PUP until entitlement to the BTWEA is approved.

Aside from BTWEA, those in self-employment may have other income support options available from the Department depending on their circumstances.

Those in self-employment can earn up to €960 over a rolling eight week period and retain their PUP. Where a self-employed person exceeds this threshold they may apply for the Part Time Job Incentive for the self-employed. This enables a self-employed person, who has been in receipt of the PUP, to engage in self-employment for up to 24 hours per week and receive a personal weekly rate of payment of €128.60. There is no income threshold applied under this support.

The Covid-Enterprise Support Grant is also available to eligible self-employed recipients who close their PUP and re-open their business. A once-off grant of up to €1,000, to assist with the costs associated with reopening, is available under this measure. In excess of 9,000 applications have been approved since the introduction of this grant, with funding nearing €8.5m paid to small businesses. The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment has primary responsibility for other supports for businesses impacted by Covid-19.

If there is a particular case that the Deputy has a concern about, my officials would be happy to examine it and advise of the options available.

I trust this clarifies the position.

Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 153.