Report warns women face ‘tsunami of business closures’

Liverpool-based social enterprise The Women’s Organisation is joining the UK’s leading voices in women’s enterprise to call for urgent Government support for women entrepreneurs. Tony McDonough reports

Helen Burkinshaw
Helen Burkinshaw, programme lead for the WEPG at The Women’s Organisation

 

A new report says women face a “tsunami of job losses and business closures” by the end of the year unless Government takes urgent action.

Liverpool-based social enterprise The Women’s Organisation is joining the UK’s leading voices in women’s enterprise to highlight the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on women in Merseyside and across the UK.

The Women’s Enterprise Policy Group (WEPG) has launched a ‘Framework of Policy Actions to Build Back Better for Women’s Enterprise’ which aims to address the gaps in COVID-19 enterprise support for women.

The report outlines how current policies have failed to reflect the extra challenges that women entrepreneurs face – including childcare responsibilities, gender bias and access to finance – and how the Government has failed to introduce measures to facilitate their survival and growth.

The WEPG is a national coalition of leading women entrepreneurs, researchers, business support providers and social entrepreneurs from across the UK. The group develops policy calls based on the latest evidence and years of experience supporting women’s enterprise creation and growth.

The group is now urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to bring them to the policy table to help shape policy that ‘builds back better’ for women entrepreneurs, for the economy, and for society.

The Women’s Organisation is one of the leading advocates for female entrepreneurship in the UK. Every year it helps thousands of would-be entrepreneurs in Liverpool city region and Greater Manchester via Enterprise Hub and Excelerate Labs.

Helen Burkinshaw, programme lead for the WEPG at The Women’s Organisation, says: “There is compelling evidence that the UK’s economic recovery will be severely hampered if women’s enterprise development is not reflected in Government policy and investment.

“There is a real risk of the UK missing out on the immense economic opportunities that female led businesses offer, particularly in terms of new business start-ups and growth, products and service innovation, internationalisation, and new employment creation.”

Julia Rouse
Julia Rouse, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Manchester Metropolitan University. Picture by Guy Hinks.

 

The WEPG has put forward a framework of policy actions to Government which they say will ‘build back better’ for women’s enterprise. These asks are around six key areas:

  • Income protection.
  • Grants, loans and investment.
  • Valuing women-led sectors.
  • Time and space to enable women entrepreneurs to ‘pivot’.
  • Founding vibrant women-led businesses.
  • Invest in a care infrastructure.

Professor Julia Rouse, co-Chair of the WEPG and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Manchester Metropolitan University, added: “As our report shows, women running businesses have faced acute pressures during COVID-19.

“We know that women tend to trade in sectors that do more face-to-face work – for example, as carers, in hospitality and tourism or as beauticians – and that means their trade is only coming back slowly and is vulnerable to local lockdowns.

“Add to this school and nursery closures, and the threat of ‘bubbles’ and consequently support networks bursting when these re-open fully, and you can see the scale of the challenge.

Click here to download the full report

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