Female Entrepreneurs

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 16th October 2014.

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Photo of Karen Lumley Karen Lumley Conservative, Redditch 9:30 am, 16th October 2014

What recent progress she has made on encouraging women to set up their own businesses.

Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

What recent progress she has made on encouraging women to set up their own businesses.

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

Women are central to our plans to create economic growth. We have introduced new measures to support those who want to start up or grow their business, for example through StartUp loans or the new enterprise allowance, both of which are seeing very good take-up by women. We have also appointed Lorely Burt as the Government’s women’s enterprise champion to advise on what more can be done to support women entrepreneurs.

Photo of Karen Lumley Karen Lumley Conservative, Redditch

Does my right hon. Friend agree that removing pointless red tape and regulation has helped business women such as my constituent Emma Sutor, whose vintage clothing business is going from strength to strength?

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

I join my hon. Friend in congratulating Emma Sutor on the success of her company, and the many women following suit and setting up their own businesses. As well as running companies, women such as Emma have an important part to play as inspirational role models for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. I encourage other women to consider accessing our Government schemes. It is also right to point out that we are on track to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge to be the first Government in modern history to reduce the overall cost of domestic regulation on business, rather than increase it.

Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

Many women set up as freelancers in order to benefit from the flexibility that provides. However, a recent report has shown that there is a disincentive in the tax system for freelance entrepreneurs to invest in new skills and that, over time, that means the skills of the self-employed are not updated in line with those of the employed. Will the Minister agree to look into that, perhaps with Treasury colleagues, to see how that disincentive can be removed?

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

I thank my hon. Friend for bringing to my attention the “Going it Alone” report by Demos on the implications of the growth of self-employment. The Government recognise the importance of developing the skills of female entrepreneurs, something the Women’s Business Council has also highlighted to us. She will understand that it is not my role to write taxation policy, but I will be happy to discuss it further with Treasury colleagues.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

Has the Minister noticed that, possibly because men have not yet colonised it, so many superb women are coming through in crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, and will she congratulate them and encourage more women to use crowdfunding to set up their own businesses?

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

In fact, I have noticed. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman and would like to congratulate all the women who are setting up businesses in this country and obtaining funding, whether via crowdfunding or any other sources. It is worth pointing out that in

2012 20% of our small and medium-sized entrepreneurs were either run by women or by a team that was over 50% female, which is an increase from 14% in 2008.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

The Minister will recognise the importance of the Federation of Small Businesses in encouraging women to come forward and become entrepreneurs, particularly the FSB breakfast clubs, such as the one in Kettering, which give women the opportunity and confidence to get plugged into local business networks.

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

I entirely endorse my hon. Friend’s comments about the importance of the support that organisations such as the FSB can give to anybody thinking about setting up a business. I would like to draw the attention of all entrepreneurs, but particularly female entrepreneurs, to a new web page for potential and existing female entrepreneurs on the Great Business website—greatbusiness.gov.uk.