City council praised for supporting women’s enterprise
Liverpool City Council has been praised for supporting women’s enterprise.
The council has passed a motion supporting the Women’s Enterprise Policy Group’s (WEPG) recently published ‘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.
Support came from councillors Joanne Anderson, Sarah Doyle, Jane Corbett and Gary Millar, as well as the city council’s chief executive, Tony Reeves.
The WEPG is a national coalition of 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.
It includes representation from Liverpool-based social enterprise, The Women’s Organisation, which has supported more than 70,000 women from diverse communities across the city region to take a more active role in social and economic life and has helped create more than 4,000 businesses since its inception in 1996.
The internationally-recognised organisation was recently named as one of just three projects across Europe exemplifying the very best approaches to supporting inclusive entrepreneurship, putting Liverpool on the global map as a key destination for women’s enterprise.
Women’s Organisation leaders have now praised the council for joining the call on government to introduce policy that ‘Builds Back Better’ for women entrepreneurs, and for the local economy and wider community.
The WEPG focuses on six key areas:
- Income protection, by extending the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to more than 750,000 new and part-time traders; addressing maternity discrimination on SEISS payments which is lower for women who have taken maternity leave; including business directors who have been paid through dividends which means many have received little or no income protection under COVID-19.
- Allocation of grants, loans and investment, by ensuring Small Business Grant Funds reflect the nature of women-led purpose-driven businesses such as those working from home premises; ensuring rigorous monitoring to negate the impact of gender bias.
- Valuing women-led sectors, by providing support sectors in which women-led purpose-driven businesses are concentrated and are more likely to involve close contact work that makes social distancing challenging, eg the beauty and wellbeing industries. This will remain a slower return to trade and it may demand further investment in equipment to create COVID-19 security, especially for those working from a home base.
- Business support, by ensuring that support is women-focused and also that the needs of BAME communities are served.
- Business start-ups, by activity supporting women’s purpose-driven business start-ups; ensuring public sector commissioning properly values the social value created in many women-led enterprises.
- Invest in a care infrastructure, by investing in care which would stimulate 2.7 times more jobs than equivalent spend on construction and would create 6.3 times more jobs for women and 10% more for men.
The motion was heard at the employment and skills committee and passed unopposed.
Cllr Joanne Anderson, councillor for Princes Park Ward, said: “As elected members of Liverpool City Council we are delighted that the motion to support women’s business locally and nationally passed unopposed.
“Women’s business will be a key ingredient to the city’s, and country’s, economic recovery and I feel reassured that our chief executive, Tony Reeves, will work tirelessly to ensure that every woman who wants to start or grow her business in the city will get the support she needs.”
Maggie O’Carroll, co-chair of the WEPG and chief executive of The Women’s Organisation, offered her thanks to the councillors involved and chief executive Tony Reeves.
She said: “As businesses and entrepreneurs navigate their way through the current crisis and start to look towards recovery, it is absolutely essential that Liverpool’s leaders pave the way and put a focus on economic equality so that each and every citizen in the city has the opportunity to benefit through the recovery period and beyond.
“I welcome Liverpool City Council’s support and strong leadership in ensuring that women who are looking to start or grow their own enterprises in the city are given all the support that they need.”