Back to Work Enterprise Allowance can be claimed by a person who has been unemployed or on Sickness benefit for at least 12 months, when you start a business. It allows you retain part of your Social Welfare payments, tax free, for 2 years (100%, 75%).

A Short-Term Enterprise Allowance can be claimed by anyone who has been made redundant or who is eligible for Jobseekers Benefit. It allows you to retain benefit until it expires (max 12 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 the cost of start-up may be available from the local County Enterprise Boards or First Step Microfinance (Tel: 01-2600988).

Back to Work Tax Free Income (Revenue Assist) is claimable at your top rate if you are returning to work if you have been previously unemployed or on disability allowance for 12 months or more – of €3,810 plus €1,270 for each child in year 1, and two-thirds of these allowances in year 2, one-third in year 3. The employer is also entitled to double write-off against tax.

Work Placement for Nine Months is organised by Fás, including a separate stream for graduates (level 7+, including 2009 graduates). Anyone who is out of work may apply. If you have been on Social Welfare for 3 months or more, you retain your payment, otherwise receive no payment. IBEC (Gradlink) organise a similar scheme for graduates.

Community Employment: Offers up to 20 hours work per week for 12 months to people aged 25 or over who have been on Social Welfare for over 12 months and have worked no more than 30 days in the year. The allowance paid €208, is €20 over Social Welfare. The period of participation can be extended in certain cases. Persons under 25 can only participate if on Disability Allowance, ex-Offenders, referred by Drugs Task Force.

Back to Education Allowance (from Department of Social and Family Affairs) or a VTOS Allowance (VEC), is claimable if you are undertaking a full time course leading to a recognised certificate at Second, Third or Postgraduate, and are:

• at least 21 years of age (18, if out of education for at least 2 years), 24 Postgraduate and

• on Social Welfare for at least 3 months (for Second Level), 6 months (VTOS), or 9 months (for Third Level), or immediately if you lose your job and get statutory redundancy.

To pass this test, periods of claim may be linked if there is no more than a 52 week gap in between. If you qualify you get welfare payment plus €500 at start of year (BTEA) or a weekly training allowance €20 (VTOS). If you are on these schemes, you must apply for waiver of the registration fee under the third level grant (below). Part-time VTOS options can be taken up without affecting Social Welfare entitlements subject to approval.