Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, today embarked on a regional tour to meet with women working in all four sectors of the economy - services, agriculture, construction, and manufacturing – to find out what more the government’s long term economic plan can do to support female employment.
HM Treasury’s analysis showed that under this government female employment has increased in every sector of the economy with nearly 80 per cent of the increase being in highly skilled occupations. Under the last government female employment growth was concentrated in the service sector.
The analysis based on the latest labour market data showed that more women are in work than ever before with the proportion of women in work also at a record high.
While the government has already prioritised key policies to help support women into work, including tax free childcare and increasing the personal allowance, the analysis shows that there is more the government can do to support more women in work. In fact if we could help 450,000 more women into work – 6.9% of those working age women currently out of work – the UK would have a female employment rate equal to Germany and the second highest overall employment rate in the G7.
Alongside cheaper childcare, the Chancellor is considering ways of boosting childcare provision. The Childcare Business Grant which has so far supported 29,000 new childcare places is due to finish at the end of the year. By extending it for another year, and increasing funding to £2million the government could support a further 50,000 childcare places next year.
The day began with a visit to the Quintiles prime site at Exeter University, where the Chancellor announced £150 million of funding for clinical research infrastructure. Quintiles, the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development services employs 29,000 people globally. Women account for over half of the company’s workforce and over 60 per cent of its senior leadership positions in the UK. The visit formed the service sector element of the tour. As part of the visit the Chancellor met with senior women from Quintiles, the University of Exeter, and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust. In an address to staff at the site the Chancellor announced the funding package and presented the Quintiles Woman in Science award.
The Chancellor then moved on to the agricultural element of the tour, visiting Marldon Christmas Tree Farm, a thriving small business in Devon, to launch its new ‘My First Tree’ product range. He also selected the official Christmas tree for No11 Downing Street. The Chancellor met with Sadie Lynes, the owner and Managing Director of the company to hear about her plans to export for the first time ever this year. Sadie has run the businesses since x and has overseen a significant expansion and diversification. Sadie also sits on the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, having previously been its chairperson.
For the construction element of the tour the Chancellor visited Rotunda Living in Hazel Grove, to hear about the company’s inception since receiving a start-up loan last year. He also welcomed the small business’ announcement to create three new jobs. The company, which manufactures and constructs timber round houses was founded by Gemma Roe in July 2012. Gemma started Rotunda two weeks after having her first child. In 2013 she received a £7,700 loan from Start-Up Now, the North West arm of the governments national £150 million Start Up Loans programme. The loan has helped her grow the company significantly over the last year. Gemma is also looking to expand overseas.
The Chancellor was joined on the tour by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, and Minister for Women.
George Osborne said:
Our long term economic plan is all about creating jobs and the economic security that comes with that. That is why we have introduced the New Enterprise Allowance, Childcare Business Grants, and are now introducing tax free childcare, to support women who want to work.
Today’s Treasury research shows that women are playing an ever larger role in the economy, but it also makes clear that there’s more we can do to support women into work. That is why I am today visiting women working in all four sectors of the economy to find out what more we can do to support them.