STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS
- 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 €2,€500 and retain your secondary benefits. You can also apply for an exemption from income tax for 2 years up to a max of €40,000 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 the benefit until it expires (max 9 months). If you have been on Social Welfare for at least three months, you can also retain 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 (Galway Tel: 091 509090 / Mayo Tel: 094 904 7555). Microfinance Ireland (Tel: 01 2601007) can lend up to €25,000 to a person who can’t get bank finance.
WORK, EDUCATION AND TRAINING
- The National Minimum Wage is now reviewed annually by the independent Low Pay Commission. The fifth increase since 2011 has now been agreed by government which will set the NMW at €9.80 per hour from January 1, 2019.
- 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 €72-per-week subsidy for 2 years (e96-per-week if you have been unemployed for more than 24 months or if you are aged 50 or over), provided the job provides work on at least 4 days and 30 hours per week. Visit www.jobsplus.ie to register online.
- Apprenticeship and Traineeships: Apprenticeship allows you earn as you learn. There are 27 traditional areas. New fields already include Insurance, Finance, Manufacturing, Commi Chef and many more are on the way. Traineeships are also expanding from the present 24 areas, and are being extended to homemakers and career changers.
- 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. Some of these programmes are also available to homemakers returning to the workforce. 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, higher diploma level or PME, 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). For Jobseekers, your course must be deemed employment relevant by Intreo. 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 €500 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.
- Third Level Grant: A means-tested grant towards the costs of attending college full-time is available from SUSI.ie. If you are under 23 or not living independently of your parents from 1 October of the year before entry onto the course, your income (if any, other than holiday earnings up to €4,500) along with your parents’ gross income in the previous tax year is assessed. For students starting in Autumn 2019, the grant is:
Upper Income Limit
(fewer than four children)
Special Rate Maintenance (€2,375) and Student Contribution (€3,000/PLC fee €200) €23,500
Standard Maintenance (€1,215) and Student Contribution (€3,000/PLC fee €200) €39,875
(with part-entitlement graded down with rising income to:)
Half Student Contribution (€1,500) €54,240
- It covers courses from PLC, diploma to undergraduate degree levels in approved colleges in Ireland and in the EU (maintenance only paid). The maintenance payments are higher if your college is over 45 kilometres from your home (€5,915 (Special Rate), €3,025 (Standard Rate)). To qualify for the special rate, one of those whose income is being assessed must be on Working Family Payment or a long-term Social Welfare payment. For each additional family member in college, about €4,700 is added to the means-tests.
- Postgraduates (studying in Ireland or N.Ireland only) who pass the test for the Special Rate, qualify for tuition fees up to a maximum of €6,270 and maintenance grant of €2,375 (45Km or Under) or €5,915 (Over 45Km). A contribution towards fees of €2,000 applies to those with reckonable income up to €31,500 (fewer than four children).