I an unemployed and I would like to start my own business. I am dependent on social welfare to pay my bills at the moment. Can I continue to claim social welfare payments until my business is up and running or will I be guilty of social welfare fraud if I do so?
Social welfare fraud is a criminal offence and claiming benefits one is not entitled to may result in prosecution.
However, a Government initiative called the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund allows individuals claiming certain social welfare payments toretain those payments for up to 2 years if they become self-employed. 100% of social welfare payments are paid for the first year of self-employment and 75% for the second year.
To qualify for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance one must become self-employed in a business that has been approved in advance in writing by a DEASP Case Officer and a Local Development Company.
Also, one must be claiming certain social welfare entitlements for specified periods.
Example, you must be claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance continuously for at least 9 months OR you must be getting one of the following continuously for at least 9 months: Jobseeker’s Transitional payment, One-Parent Family Payment, Blind Pension, Disability Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, 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.
Other criteria also apply and I expect that full details will be available from your local social welfare office.