Research and reports
Despite childcare provisions set out in the Spring Budget, there’s rising concern amongst small business owners who feel the measures haven’t gone far enough. As the Chancellor announced an expansion of 30 hours of free childcare, there are many small business owners in the UK who think more is still needed – and that includes Baroness Karren Brady CBE.
New research shows that 51 per cent of women small business owners want better access to, and more affordable, childcare provisions. A tenth (11 per cent) of people surveyed also say that managing childcare and family responsibilities is currently one of their greatest challenges when running a successful business.
The UK’s childcare costs rank in the top three most expensive across the developed world. Nearly half (46 per cent) of women business owners believe the cost of childcare is a blockage to equity in business – something that will only improve if childcare becomes more accessible and affordable.
Baroness Karren Brady CBE has partnered with Simply Business 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: “Women give birth to every tax payer on the planet, yet they are prejudiced against when it comes to support from the government. 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.”
Karren Brady isn’t the one who feels this way. 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.”
Despite the positive reaction to the Chancellor’s latest announcements, there’s still more to be done to support women in business. Recent research showed that four in five women business owners (81 per cent) say they’ve experienced sexism, gender inequality or unequal access to opportunities whilst running their own business.
That’s why we’ve launched our Empowering Women in Business initiative to help women entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they are facing in business. We’re also giving away the chance for one woman entrepreneur to win a one-to-one mentoring session with Baroness Karren Brady CBE.
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. And while we’re delighted to celebrate their success, we feel equally compelled to highlight their challenges – with more than half of all women calling out a lack of affordable childcare as a key barrier to growth.
“The Chancellor’s commitment to offer greater childcare provisions as part of his Budget was a clear and positive step in the right direction, but a staged approach to the introduction means many will have to wait until September 2025 to benefit.
“Given the challenges small business owners are facing, and in particular women business owners, many won't be able to afford to keep their businesses open – and the impact of this will be felt not just by our nation's entrepreneurs but the economy as a whole. 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, we’re looking to surface the challenges facing women in business in order to drive positive change. Small businesses are so crucial to the UK’s economy, and alongside Baroness Brady CBE, we’re hoping to inspire countless women entrepreneurs across the country to follow their business dreams.”
Do you have experience as a working mother? Join the conversation in our Women in Business Facebook community group and share your thoughts on these latest developments.
Not only can you connect with other business women, you can also access tips, get involved with Q&A sessions, and enter exciting giveaways.
Our mentorship competition is open until 5 April – enter for your chance to win.
How do you think the government can support women in business? Let us know in the comments below.
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Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.
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