Female Entrepreneurs

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 13th July 2022.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Conservative, Gosport

What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help support female entrepreneurs.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We set up a taskforce on women-led high growth enterprise, which met for the first time this month. It will use its convening power to influence high growth investors and the business community, and to raise aspiration of the next generation of female entrepreneurs right across the country.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Conservative, Gosport

I thank the Minister for that answer, but the fact is that if women were starting and scaling businesses at the same rate as men it would add a staggering £250 billion to the UK economy. We need to turbocharge the investment and support we are giving to female entrepreneurship. What thought has been given to pivoting some of the existing financial packages, such as the enterprise investment scheme, to better support women-led enterprises?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The enterprise investment scheme has specific objectives. It is designed to encourage investment in higher risk early stage companies. However, the Government are committed to supporting women entrepreneurs in a range of ways, as highlighted by the implementation of recommendations from the Rose review. I would be happy to ask a colleague of mine to discuss the issue further with my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

Dame Caroline Dinenage rightly points out some problems with the Government’s schemes, but the Minister, who works within the Department for Work and Pensions, should know that the way that childcare functions within universal credit does not help women become entrepreneurs either. What conversations has she had with the other Ministers in that Department and civil servants on reform to childcare?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The Government are committed to a range of ways to help families—not just women, but parents—with childcare. There is a set of messages we could let go out from this exchange today, which includes encouraging families to take up the childcare options that are available. There will be more that we can do to continue to encourage people to take the work that is right for them and to support them as they do so.