To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to support SMEs that are run by women.
The Government is committed to supporting all entrepreneurs to start and grow a business, and as part of our Industrial Strategy, we have taken steps to encourage women to start a business. There are now 1.1 million female-led small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, which accounts for 19% of SMEs in the UK, 5% higher than in 2010.
There are 38 Growth Hubs across England which provide localised information, guidance, expertise and finance for businesses at any stage of their growth. We know that 45% of callers to the Business Support Helpline in 2017/18 were women.
The Government-backed British Business Bank provides Start-Up Loans for individuals wishing to start a business and women account for 39% of recipients. The Scheme started in 2012 and as at the end of September 2018, the Start Up Loans programme had lent £450m to more than 59,000 entrepreneurs. The Bank is also conducting a review into the specific barriers female-led businesses face in accessing Venture Capital.
I would also like to point out that on 21 September 2018, the Treasury launched a review into the barriers women face getting into business. This is led by Alison Rose, Chief Executive of RBS Commercial and Private Banking. This review will bolster our work to make it easier for them to access the support they need to get their ideas off the ground and grow their businesses.