Short-Term Enterprise Allowance


The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) gives support to people who have lost their job and want to start their own business.

To qualify you must be getting Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Benefit Self-Employed (JBSE). There is no qualifying period, which means you do not need to have been getting JB or JBSE for a certain period of time. However, you will not qualify if you are getting JB or JBSE and working part-time.

The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance is paid instead of your JB or JBSE for a maximum of 9 months. It ends when your entitlement to JB or JBSE ends (that is at either 9 or 6 months).


To qualify for the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance you must be getting, or have an entitlement to, Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker's Benefit Self-Employed.

Your business plan must be approved in advance in writing by a Case Officer based in an Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office - see 'How to apply' below.

Seasonal, temporary or part time self-employment does not qualify for the STEA.

You must contact the Department of Social Protection (DSP) immediately if your self-employment ends or you take up employment.

If you are unemployed when your entitlement to STEA ends you will not immediately re-qualify for JB or JBSE. However, you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is a means-tested payment.

Employment grants

Employment grants from a Local Enterprise Office (LEO) or a local development company do not affect your entitlement to the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance.

Help with starting a business

In addition to income support (your weekly payment), you can also get financial support with the costs of setting up your business. These supports are provided under a scheme called the Enterprise Support Grant (ESG). (The ESG replaced the Technical Assistance and Training Scheme.)

You can only get the ESG if you have been approved for either the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance. The business plan you submit as part of your application for the scheme must set out the rationale and requirement for financial support. The ESG is paid to people getting the STEA on a pro-rata basis - a maximum of €1000 can be paid to people on a 9-month STEA and a maximum of €625 to people on a 6-month STEA. You must be able to make a matching contribution of between 10% and 20% to access grant support. There is a list of items that qualify for grant support (pdf). You need to provide documentary evidence of the costs (quotations from at least 2 suppliers or, if a single supplier, the reasons for choosing a single supplier).

Some items not eligible for grant support under the ESG include:

  • Building/premises rental costs
  • Cost of travel
  • Insurance (except public liability)
  • Personal clothing and uniforms (except protective clothing)
  • Professional development programmes arranged by professional and regulatory bodies
  • Purchase of any type of vehicle
  • Stock-in-trade
  • Training or education other than that specified
  • Utility costs, connection or supply and local authority rates

You can get more information about becoming self-employed and setting up a business.


If you qualify, the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance replaces your Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker's Benefit Self-Employed. The STEA will be paid at the same rate as your JB or JBSE, including any increases for adult and child dependants. It ends when your entitlement to JB or JBSE ends.

You do not pay PRSI or Universal Social Charge on the STEA. However the STEA is subject to income tax in the same way as JB or JBSE. (Note that this is different from the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance which is not taxable).

Extra benefits

You can keep any extra (or secondary benefits) that you were getting with your JB or JBSE provided you continue to satisfy the conditions. For example, a medical card and Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

How to apply

To apply for the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance, complete application form STEA 1 (pdf).

You should return form STEA 1 to the Case Officer in your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

The Case Officer will look at your business proposal and may discuss certain aspects of it with you and the Enterprise Officer in your Local Development Company. You must not take up self-employment until you get written approval from the Department of Social Protection.

If you are accepted on to the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance, you must register as self-employed with the Revenue Commissioners. You can find more information on self-employment from Revenue.

Where to apply

You should apply to the Jobs Case Officer in your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

Page edited: 28 September 2022