Blue Orchid is proud to deliver the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) programme across Merseyside, funded by DWP and the European Social fund.

It is one of the flagship policies by which the government hopes to translate the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit into a new wave of profit-generating companies

The New Enterprise Allowance is a package of support aimed at would-be entrepreneurs aged 18 and over and currently in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit. The NEA is also available to Employment and Support Allowance claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), and lone parents in receipt of Income Support.

The NEA provides practical and financial support to individuals in those categories who wish to start their own businesses. It consists of a combination of business mentoring, a weekly allowance, and a business loan.

Once you join the scheme you will be assigned a business mentor. This individual will help you put together your business plan, and will support you in turning your idea into a realistic, revenue-generating venture. Your mentor will stay with you, providing ongoing assistance during your first few months of trading.

When your business plan has been approved, you will be given access to the financial support. This comes in the form of a weekly allowance, and a start-up loan facility.

How much could I claim?

The NEA weekly allowance is £65 per week for the first 13 weeks, and £33 per week for the second 13 weeks. The allowance is paid for a maximum total of 26 weeks. There is also a Start-up Loan that can be applied for to assist you with any start-up costs.


Applications for the NEA are made through your local Jobcentre Plus. Talk to your JC advisor to find out how you can be referred to the programme.

For more information, click here:

Case Studies

Name: Cheryl Kerr
Area: Liverpool
Business: Life Coach

Cheryl was on benefits for over a year due to having treatment for breast cancer.  However, this didn’t stop stop her plans of becoming a self employed Life Coach. She had utilised a lot of self-help & motivational techniques to combat her own experiences of depression & Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome since being diagnosed and she decided that she wanted to be able to share these techniques with other people who have had similar traumatic experiences or difficult times in their lives.

Through DWP/JobcentrePlus, Cheryl was put in touch with Carole Shepphard of Blue Orchid who is a business advisor for the New Enterprise Allowance programme across Merseyside.

Cheryl benefited from bespoke 1-2-1 business advice from Carole who helped her to put together a viable business plan & realistic cash flow forecast.   Together, they were able to point out things Cheryl hadn’t thought of when thinking about starting a business including advice about registering with HMRC and they were able to signpost me to useful resources as I was setting up my website & starting to look at marketing strategies.

Cheryl states:

“The weekly NEA payments that I receive as a result of the scheme have really helped me out along the way, as a new business where the income is not guaranteed these payments have taken a bit of pressure off me, the payments have served as a ‘buffer’ & have definitely made starting out on my own less ‘scary’ as I know I have a little breathing space each week as I’m building my business.”

Since starting trading, Cheryl has benefit from attending a number of Blue Orchid Mentoring events where she has had the opportunity to seek advice from experts across several disciplines of business as well as being able to expand her business network:

these have been really useful as they give practical advice such as how to create an effective web presence, I will definitely be attending more of them in the future, I’ve learned a lot from attending these sessions”

As Cheryl looks to the future now, what would she say about her experience on the programme?

To anyone who is thinking of starting out in business after being on benefits I would highly recommend the NEA scheme in fact, I have recommended it to people in a similar position to mine.  I don’t think I’d have had the courage to start a business on my own without this support, it has been amazing & I’m really looking forward to the future.