Help available and eligibility for NEIS

If you are an eligible job seeker and are interested in starting and running a small business, you may be able to access assistance through the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS).

NEIS can provide you with accredited small business training, business advice and mentoring for the first year of your business operating, as well as income support for up to 39 weeks.

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Support to build your own business

Your local NEIS provider can help you put your business idea into practice. They will provide you with individualised assistance to help you achieve your goals, and will maintain regular contact with you to provide extra help if you experience any business problems or need other additional support.

NEIS training

Your NEIS provider will help you decide whether you should undertake a Certificate III in Micro-business Operations or a Certificate IV in Small Business Management. This will depend on the type of small business you are planning. During the training you will also develop a business plan which will need to be approved by your NEIS provider.

NEIS training helps you to achieve a nationally recognised qualification, and is a Centrelink approved activity for up to 13 weeks. This allows time for completing the course (normally six to eight weeks), assessment of your business plan by your NEIS provider and any final business preparations.

If you have prior training or experience in business, you may be eligible for prior learning exemptions.

If your business plan is approved, you will receive NEIS Assistance, which includes:

  • NEIS Allowance for up to 39 weeks
  • NEIS Rental Assistance for up to 26 weeks (if eligible), and
  • business mentoring and support during your first year of business operation.

NEIS Allowance and NEIS Rental Assistance

While participating in NEIS you will receive NEIS Allowance for 39 weeks of business operation. NEIS Allowance is equivalent to the single, 22 or over, no children rate of Newstart Allowance, and is paid fortnightly in arrears, subject to you fulfilling your obligations under your NEIS Participant Agreement.

An advantage of NEIS Allowance is that the amount you receive will not be affected by income from your NEIS business.

You can receive external income while participating in NEIS—that is, income from outside your business, such as from investments or other work. However, your NEIS provider is required to ensure that your NEIS business is your primary, full-time activity. Therefore, if your external income is greater than twice the basic rate of NEIS Allowance in a given financial quarter, it may affect the amount of your NEIS Allowance.

Note: Recipients of Disability Support Pension, Carers Payment, Parenting Payment (Single) and some Department of Veterans' Affairs pensions can choose to remain on these payments while participating in NEIS.

You may also be eligible to receive NEIS Rental Assistance, which is a fixed rate payment made to you for a period of 26 weeks from the date you first receive NEIS Allowance.

NEIS business mentoring and support

Business mentoring and support is an essential component of NEIS. NEIS business mentors are people with proven business acumen and experience in marketing, finance, accounting or other relevant business skills.

As a NEIS participant you will receive NEIS business mentoring for the first year of operation of your business, including assistance and advice about organisational, financial and marketing issues to help develop your business.

Your NEIS mentor will meet with you face-to-face a number of times during this first year of operation to help maximise the potential success of your business. If you have been assessed as highly disadvantaged, or are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander job seeker, NEIS can provide you with additional mentoring and support to ensure you have the best chance of getting your business off the ground.

Who can participate in NEIS

To participate in NEIS you must be registered with a Job Services Australia or Disability Employment Services provider. Your provider can tell you if you are eligible. You also must:

  • be at least 18 years old when you begin receiving NEIS Assistance
  • be available to participate in NEIS training and work full-time in your proposed NEIS business*
  • not be an undischarged bankrupt
  • not have received NEIS Assistance for a similar business activity, and
  • not have received NEIS Assistance in the previous three years.

* or fewer hours for those with an assessed partial capacity to work, reduced work participation requirements or who volunteer for employment services.Your NEIS business must be:

  • not currently operating on a commercial basis
  • independent, capable of withstanding public scrutiny, and lawful
  • assessed as commercially viable by a NEIS provider
  • not based on the purchase or takeover of an existing business
  • not competing directly with existing businesses, unless it can be demonstrated that there is an unsatisfied demand for the product or service, or the product or service is to be provided in a new way, and
  • established, located and operated solely within Australia.

How to become involved

To apply to participate in NEIS, you should contact your local jobactive or Disability Employment Services provider to discuss whether NEIS is an appropriate activity for you. If NEIS is an appropriate activity for you, your provider will help you to choose a NEIS provider in your area, and will refer you to your NEIS provider to have your eligibility checked.

Find your local jobactive provider

Find your local Disability Employment Services provider

More information

For more information on NEIS you can contact your local jobactive or Disability Employment Services provider.