Frequently Asked Questions
Can I buy a business or buy into a franchise?
No. The NEIS Program was set up to assist people to start a business. If you purchase a franchise or existing business then you automatically inherit existing customers and therefore you have a ready cash flow. The idea behind the NEIS allowance is that it gives you some income support whilst you establish a cash flow.
By signing up and doing the course do I automatically get a place on the Program?
No. The Government makes available funding to support a limited number of places each year, therefore the role of the Managing Agent is to assess carefully the viability of each Business Plan that is submitted after you have done the appropriate training.
Your acceptance onto the Program will be determined by the evidence in the Plan that will support the question, “All things being equal, would this business, based on the facts presented, be able to be self-supporting at the end of the 9-month NEIS payment support period”.
What is meant by “commercially operating business”?
Many people have hobbies or activities that they engage in “on the side” that are not their main source of income. These activities or hobbies often provide “supplementary income” over and above their main, full-time job.
These activities are not considered commercially operating and therefore on a case by case basis will be examined by the Managing Agent to determine its eligibility. It is important not to be shy, and ask the question. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Secondly, if, in the course of conducting market research for a new business idea, you gain some initial work, this also may not disqualify you as it may be deemed bonifide market demand research. Your NEIS Managing Agent will assess that for you.
Does the Program provide any financial grants to help start my business?
No. The only financial support is the 9 month’s NEIS allowance (please contact us to confirm the current rates) paid to you once you have done the training and your Business Plan has been accepted by the Department.
The accredited Certificate IV / III is paid for, as is the 12 month’s Mentoring, by the Government. The course and the Program are provided free by the Government.
In some cases, if you are an Intensive Assistance client, your Job Active provider may be able to assist with some funding through the Job Seeker Fund. You will need to discuss this with your Job Service provider prior to applying to NEIS.
If I have already registered my business name, does that disqualify me for the NEIS?
No. You can register your business name, get an ABN, register for GST, buy your business cards, lease a shop or factory, purchase stock and get insurance for your proposed business as long as you do not “commercially operate”.
If I’m on Parenting or Disability Allowance, do I have to swap over to the NEIS payment if accepted for the Program?
No. Parenting and Disability receivers may choose to stay on their existing benefits, however these benefits will be income tested against how much you earn in your business.
You have the opportunity, once on the Program, to switch to the NEIS allowance where your business income will not affect the allowance. It also works the other way should you have chosen to go onto the NEIS allowance initially but have now decided that it would be better to stay on your original benefit.
It is very important that you discuss this option with a NEIS Managing Agent prior to being accepted onto NEIS
Am I allowed to do some part-time work while doing NEIS?
Yes. Once you have completed your training and your Business Plan has been accepted and you are in receipt of the NEIS allowance you may earn some additional income per quarter outside of your business activity without it affecting your NEIS allowance (please contact us for further details).
This could be a situation where you might work behind the bar a couple of night’s a week at your local tavern, or do a couple of morning’s relief work as receptionist at the Doctor’s Surgery, etc. Anything like that, as long as it does not interfere or detract from the continued development and operating of your business. Any activity of this kind must be approved by your Managing Agent.
Can I go into partnership with a non-NEIS eligible person?
Yes. The Program allows you to have business partners who are not eligible for NEIS. For example, they may be employed or have a separate business to the joint venture you are looking at going into. If this is the case you will be required to have a signed Partnership Agreement (NEIS format) and, as the NEIS participant for the duration of the 12-month Program, the NEIS participant must retain 51% of the business.
Is my NEIS allowance taxable?
Yes. You will need to take this into consideration when developing your cash flow projections and budgets.
Will I still receive Rental Allowance if I get onto the Program?
Yes. If you are in receipt of rental allowance at the time of your approval to go onto the Program you will continue to receive your rental allowance but only for six months. Why? Because within six months of operating your business, you should not need this extra assistance and, in the majority of cases, historically, this has been the case.
Under what circumstances can I be withdrawn from NEIS and sent back to Centrelink?
- If you fail to complete the training modules in the allocated time.
- If you fail to return your quarterly return on time.
- If you fail to participate in business mentoring.
- If you fail to work on your business in line with your business plan.
- If your business is deemed “not viable”
Whilst doing the pre-NEIS training and Business Plan do I still have to look for work and report to Centrelink?
The pre-NEIS training is recognised by the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) and the your Job Active provider as a complimentary program and is categorised as an “Approved Activity”. As such you must still put in your forms as directed by Centrelink but you are not required to look for work as pre-NEIS training is a full-time activity.
Centrelink grants you 13 week’s Approved Activity to complete the training and Business Plan, and this is a very generous allocation as most people get through it in six to ten weeks.
When filling in your forms for Centrelink:
- Where it asks if you have looked for work, you indicate No.
- Where it asks did you partake in an Approved Activity, you put Yes.
- Where it asks what type of activity, you put Pre-NEIS Training.
The word “Pre-NEIS” is very important. There is no extension of the 13 weeks so you need to be fully committed before applying. If Centrelink or your Job Active Provider asks you to come in for an interview during your training you are obliged to make that meeting. If it clashes with your training, you need to advise your NEIS Managing Agent in advance.
Can I get an extension of the 12-month NEIS support if I feel that I still need it at the end of the Program?
Definitely NO. Notwithstanding the comprehensive training and business planning that sorts out many non-viable businesses, the Mentoring Program requires five mandatory visits to the participant by experienced business coaches whose role is to guide and advise the participant in their business decisions.
The third visit at the six-month mark and again at the 4th visit at the nine-month mark are specifically focused on completing a viability assessment on the progress of the NEIS business.
Wherever possible additional assistance is given to help anyone whose venture is struggling, however if after all efforts have been implemented, the business is still unlikely to be self-supporting at the end of the 12-month program, the Managing Agent will recommend the withdrawal of the participant.
The vast majority of businesses do not require assistance after 12 months, hence the Program’s national success rate of in excess of 84% of NEIS businesses still operating 15 months after they commence.