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New Businesses (Government Support)

Volume 600: debated on Thursday 15 October 2015

4. What steps the Government are taking to support more women in setting up their own businesses. (901559)

5. What steps the Government are taking to support more women in setting up their own businesses. (901560)

14. What steps the Government are taking to support more women in setting up their own businesses. (901569)

I am delighted that the UK is considered the best place in Europe for women to start a business, but we are not resting on our laurels. That is why we have launched the women in broadband fund and are running meet a mentor roadshows across the country, giving women the support, advice and skills they need.

If the Minister has the opportunity to speak to the Secretary of State for Education, will she encourage her to ensure that girls consider topics such as economics and business studies so that we can get more young women to start their own business?

Well, Mr Speaker, the Secretary of State is nodding furiously at me so I will take that as a yes. We have been celebrating and showcasing women in business as a great way of inspiring the next generation and, of course, we have set up the new business and enterprise company as a great way of showing girls the fantastic careers available to them in both business and enterprise.

I thank the Minister for her original answer. Women entrepreneurs such as Jodie Sheppard from my Havant constituency, who has launched a business helping to improve children’s fitness, are excellent local role models. Does the Minister agree that organisations such as the Women’s Business Council offer excellent support for our women business leaders, and will the Government continue to work hard to help women who want to start their own business?

Jodie Sheppard, who founded Active8 Minds in Havant, is an excellent example of a capable woman running her own business and will, I am sure, be delighted with the fantastic plug her MP has given her business today. I certainly agree that the Women’s Business Council has a vital role in supporting women to reach their potential. We know that if women started their own businesses at the same rate as men do, we would have an extra 1 million women involved and an extra 1 million businesses in the UK.

Cheltenham is home to thousands of talented female entrepreneurs, but broadband and superfast broadband are key to unlocking that potential. How are the Government helping more women in Cheltenham to grow their businesses online?

The fund has been extended for a second year, with an additional £1.1 million to support more women to take their businesses online, enabling them to develop the skills they need to become competitive in a growing digital economy. One example of which my hon. Friend might be aware is the Faster Women project, which is supporting women in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire to develop digital skills. Today, a workshop is taking place in his very own Cheltenham to help women take the first steps to putting their businesses online.