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Entrepreneurs: Government Support

Volume 606: debated on Thursday 25 February 2016

We are absolutely committed to supporting women to start and grow their own businesses. I am really proud that Britain has been named the best place in Europe for female entrepreneurs. Our £1 million women and broadband programme enables them to take advantage of technology to start or grow their own business. We are running nationwide “meet and mentor” sessions to help give female entrepreneurs access to the right support and encouragement.

Self-employment is at record levels. Since 2009, women have accounted for more than 50% of that increase. Will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming Julie Deane’s new review into self-employment, and will she work with colleagues to take forward recommendations that will help more women to set up businesses successfully and to thrive?

Julie Deane is an incredibly inspiring example of the great female entrepreneurs we have here in the UK, and about a million of our small and medium-sized enterprises are indeed led by women, contributing an incredible £85 billion to the British economy. Julie has made some wide-ranging recommendations as part of her review into self-employment. I know that my hon. Friend has been involved in those recommendations, and they will be considered very carefully by the Government.

I ask the Minister to face the House. I understand that her questioner is behind her, but she should face the House.

More generally for women who choose a career in business, I understand that Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have recently appointed Sir Philip Hampton to lead a review into increasing the number of women in UK boardrooms. I just wondered why the Minister thought that appointing that man was the right thing to do for this particular job.

I think we have to get away from the supposition that this is just a women’s problem. The fact that women are not as fully engaged as they should be on boards or indeed all the way through the business pipeline is a problem for everybody, and all businesses need to address this issue. That is why we need excellent people to lead this investigation, ensuring that it is all done as properly and fully as possible.