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Despite the Chancellor announcing an expansion of 30 hours free childcare provision as part of the Spring Budget, there is concern across the UK from those who don’t think the measures go far enough, but Baroness Karren Brady CBE says more needs to be done.
It comes as new research from Simply Business, one of the UK’s biggest providers of small business insurance, has revealed that half (51%) of women small business owners want better access to, and more affordable childcare provision. Two fifths say managing childcare and family responsibilities is currently one of their greatest challenges to running a successful business.
With the UK’s childcare costs ranking in the top three most expensive across the developed world*2, many women are being forced to close their businesses as a result of the associated costs. Nearly half (46%) of women business owners believe it is a blockage to equity in business, claiming gender equality can only improve if childcare becomes more accessible and affordable.
Simply Business has partnered with Baroness Karren Brady CBE to help raise the profile of the challenges facing small businesses and SMEs across the UK. She shared insight into her own thoughts on childcare support, Baroness Karren Brady CBE comments: “Women give birth to every tax payer on the planet, yet when women return to their careers after starting a family, they’re assumed to be less dedicated than their male colleagues, all because they have a family to think about. In fact, so many women don’t see any financial gain from returning to work as the majority of income achieved goes on to paying for childcare.
“I know from experience that it is extremely difficult to carve out a career as a mother. Juggling both is not easy – you’re having to choose between a board meeting or a parents’ evening and whilst you’re at one, you’re thinking you should be at the other. I couldn’t go to every event but I taught them something else; the ability to be independent, to have opinions and ambition and those are the advantages you get from a working parent.”
Whilst the Chancellor’s latest announcement around childcare provisions has been received positively by many in childcare provision, many believe there is still work to be done. Recent research showed that the majority (92%) of those surveyed believe the government should be doing more, with childcare support called out as an area in need of desperate improvement.
Rachel Chesters, Director at Start Communication Ltd said: “Childcare has become increasingly expensive and hard to access. At times, it has felt like no one in government has been listening to the work being done by organisations like Mother Pukka, FlexAppeal, Pregnant then Screwed and Mumsnet, among others. It looks like that is finally starting to change, but childcare in this country is still a nightmare for many and will continue to be for a long while yet. Time will tell whether the recent announcements from the Government actually work and have a positive impact on parents and business owners like myself.”
Lack of childcare support is just one of the challenges women business owners are having to deal with when it comes to their business. A shocking four in five women business owners (81%) say they have experienced sexism, gender inequality or unequal access to opportunities whilst running their own business.
Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented: “At Simply Business we’re proud to support hundreds of thousands of women who own flourishing small businesses across the UK. We see the value in the Chancellor’s commitment to offer greater childcare provisions as part of his Budget but the fear remains that these new measures will only scratch the surface. We know the rising cost of childcare is a very real problem for many women business owners. Whilst we can offer our support, we urge the government to build on the Chancellor’s commitment and make sure it is translated into real change for women business owners.”
“By partnering with Baroness Karren Brady CBE – a hugely admired businesswoman – we’re looking to bring challenges women in business are facing to the surface in order to drive positive change. Small businesses are so crucial to the UK’s economy, and we’re hoping to inspire countless women entrepreneurs across the country to follow their business dreams.”