Women looking to start and grow a business are facing unfair barriers not seen by their male counterparts, the Exchequer Secretary said today, as he launched a review and vowed action to tackle the issue.

While the UK is one of the best places in the world to grow a business, women are half as likely as men to be involved in starting one. This has led to only one in five small to medium-sized employers being run by women – therefore creating a significant pool of untapped entrepreneurial potential.

RBS CEO of Commercial and Private Banking Alison Rose, has been appointed to lead a government review to identify the extent of these barriers and explore what can be done to overcome them.

Robert Jenrick, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“The fact that Britain is home to so many new, innovative businesses is something to be proud of. But the fact that so few of them are started by women is shocking. This is not because of a lack of talent or appetite.

“Therefore, it’s vital that we identify the barriers that are hampering entrepreneurial women from securing the backing that businessmen have taken for granted.

“Alison’s vast experience in investment banking will be invaluable to helping us level the playing field and empower even more talent in our economy.”

Alison Rose, CEO Commercial and Private Banking, said:

“If we want to strengthen the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business, then no-one can be left behind.

“Unfortunately, statistics show that women make up only a third of all entrepreneurs in the UK - to better drive the UK’s economy, we need to understand, and tackle, the barriers and reasons as to why this is - more can be done to support women in enterprise.

“I am looking forward to working with the Treasury on this important initiative.”

The review will consider:

•  Whether female-led firms are less likely to seek or receive financial backing
•  The drivers of this disparity between men and women
•  Examples of best practice for investors and banks looking to avoid gender-bias in their decisions

The government will consider and respond to the findings of the review when it is published in the Spring.

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