PM Plans to Empower Women Entrepreneurs and Enhance Apprenticeships

In a bid to bolster support for female entrepreneurs and revitalise apprenticeship opportunities, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, outlined a series of measures aimed at fostering a conducive environment for business growth.

Sunak expressed his aspiration for the UK to emerge as the global leader in facilitating women-led businesses. He underscored his commitment to establishing conditions conducive to female entrepreneurship and ensuring equitable access to resources. Moreover, he announced plans to augment apprenticeships by generating up to 20,000 additional opportunities, with the provision of comprehensive training for young individuals fully funded by the government.

Addressing a gathering in Coventry, Sunak highlighted the prevailing challenge wherein female founders receive a mere 2% of equity investment, a figure stagnant over the past decade. To tackle this disparity head-on, Sunak unveiled the formation of an Invest In Women taskforce, spearheaded by Hannah Bernard from Barclays and serial entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow. This initiative aims to establish a specialised investment fund dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurs, thereby bridging the existing gap in financing.

Sunak emphasised a multifaceted approach encompassing tax alleviation, administrative simplification, and improved financial accessibility to bolster small enterprises. The taskforce, co-chaired by Barclays’ head of business banking, Hannah Bernard, aims to dismantle the pervasive barriers hindering female entrepreneurs’ access to crucial support and investment.

In a comprehensive reform package designed to unlock abundant opportunities, the government pledged £60 million in new investments for the upcoming year. Effective April 1, the government will assume the entire cost of apprenticeships for individuals under 21 years old in small-scale enterprises. This strategic maneuver aims to alleviate the financial burden on employers while expanding avenues for professional training among the youth.

Furthermore, the government plans to enhance flexibility in the apprenticeship levy system, allowing companies to transfer up to 50% of unutilized funds to other businesses, up from the current 25%. Anticipated to facilitate an additional 20,000 apprenticeships, these reforms aim to optimize the utilization of allocated funds and address the longstanding issue of unspent finances returning to the Treasury annually.

In a bid to foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Prime Minister announced a 50% elevation in the thresholds delineating a company’s size. This strategic maneuver seeks to qualify an additional 132,000 businesses as SMEs, thereby exempting them from non-financial reporting obligations. Alongside initiatives to streamline reporting requirements, these reforms are projected to generate annual savings of approximately £150 million for SMEs across the UK.

Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, lauded SMEs as the cornerstone of economic prosperity, attributing nearly every job in the UK to their contributions. However, Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds criticised the Conservative government’s economic track record, citing escalating challenges faced by small businesses under its stewardship.

(source: Independent)

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