With more women in work than ever before, it is vital that they are able to fulfil their potential in business. That is why we are making it easier to balance work and family life, and promoting flexible working and shared parental leave. From next autumn, almost 2 million families could benefit from a new tax-free childcare scheme worth up to £2,000 per child.
We welcome the work of the Institute of Directors and others to increase female membership. I congratulate Lady Barbara Judge, who has recently been appointed as the institute’s first female chair. It is vital that women are able to take their place in organisations that have traditionally been male dominated.
My constituency has many small businesses run by successful women, such as Louise Beard, who runs the Josefina gift shop, the winner of an Uckfield chamber of commerce business award, but we need to do more to encourage female entrepreneurs. It has been calculated that boosting female entrepreneurship could add some £60 billion to our economy. Will the Minister therefore confirm that she is working with the Secretary of State for Education to ensure that girls at school who aspire to set up their own business later in life know that they will be supported in doing so?
Yes, I am sure my hon. Friend’s local business will be very pleased with that fine plug. The Secretary of State for Education is nodding furiously at me, so I can reassure my hon. Friend that encouraging schoolgirls to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs is central to the work of the Department for Education. Last year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education announced a new careers and enterprise company which, among other things, will develop an enterprise passport to help young people to develop their business skills.