Prime Minister to announce major reform package to boost apprenticeships and cut red tape for thousands of small businesses


PM SME Connect conference

The PM announced on Monday 18th March, a reform package to support businesses to deliver more apprenticeship places, cut red tape for SMEs and leverage more private investment in female founders at the SME Connect conference. The press release is here for the link. Key headlines are:

  •  Major package of reforms to support small businesses in PM’s first economic speech since the Spring Budget.
  • £60 million new investment to enable up to 20,000 more apprenticeships, including for young people and small businesses.
  • Unnecessary regulatory burdens to be slashed through Brexit freedoms saving around £150 million per year for thousands of small businesses.
  • New taskforce to be established to boost private investment in women-led businesses and make the UK the best place in the world to be a female founder.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“Growing up in my mum’s pharmacy, I know first-hand how important small businesses are. Not just for the economy, but as a driver for innovation and aspiration, and as the key to building a society where hard work is always recognised and rewarded.

“Whether it’s breaking down barriers and red tape for small businesses, helping businesses hire more young people into apprenticeships and skilled jobs or empowering women to start up their own businesses – this government is sticking to the plan and leaving no stone unturned to make the UK the best place to do business.

“Taken together, these measures will unlock a tidal wave of opportunity and make a real difference to businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.”

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said:

“This Government has built a world-leading apprenticeship system from the ground-up – with apprenticeships now available in around 70 per cent of all occupations.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for businesses to develop the skills they need, and these new measures will help more businesses and young people benefit from them.

“Our plan to deliver a high-growth, high-skilled economy is working, with more opportunities available to young people than ever before.”

  Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch said:

 “Almost every job in the UK is owed to what is, or what previously was, an SME. They are the engines of economic growth for this country.

“Whether it’s through cutting red tape, unlocking investment or lowering business costs, today’s announcements show that this government is committed to doing all it can to turbo-charge SMEs so that they can go further and faster than ever before.”

The core aim of the Taskforce is to raise a bespoke funding pot for female-founded businesses through private capital and address the wider challenges that female entrepreneurs specifically face to help unlock their potential to establish and grow their enterprises.

The new taskforce will be industry-led and co-chaired by entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow and Barclay’s Hannah Bernard, with Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, representing the government. The membership of the taskforce will be set out in due course.

Hannah Bernard OBE, Co-Chair of the Invest in Women taskforce and Head of Business Banking, Barclays UK said:

“This is an area I am incredibly passionate about, so it is a privilege to be offered this position.

“I believe that the key to the UK’s growth will be enabling every single entrepreneur in this country to thrive; female entrepreneurs face significantly higher barriers to get their businesses the support and investment they need, from seed funding for start-ups, through to the challenges of gaining scale-up investment.

“I’m really excited to be working with Debbie who is an ideal partner given her entrepreneurial credentials and I believe together; we can make a real difference.”

Debbie Wosskow OBE, Co-Chair of the Invest in Women taskforce and multi-exit entrepreneur said:

“Women leading businesses shouldn’t have to face funding challenges to build and grow their business, because of their gender.

“As an experienced entrepreneur, who founded her first business 25 years ago, I know first-hand the importance of breaking down barriers and making meaningful changes for female-led businesses.

“By putting funding front and centre of this Taskforce, we aim to make the U.K. the best place in the world to be a female founder.”


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