Maggie OCarroll CEO of The Womens Organisation addresses the Winter Economy Plan

The Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan: The Women’s Organisation Reaction

As we look towards an uncertain Autumn and Winter, it is essential that the self-employed and women-led enterprises are properly supported to protect jobs, incomes and livelihoods.

In yesterdays (24th September) Winter Economy Plan we heard The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announce a further package of financial support measures to protect jobs, but there is still an urgent need to invest in women focused policies and to make sure the previous gaps in support are properly filled in.

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of The Women’s Organisation, says: “While the Chancellor’s acknowledgement that we must see parity for the self-employed is of course welcomed, we really must question whether the new schemes outlined today go far enough. Particularly when we consider the scale of the gaps we saw in the earlier Coronavirus business support schemes and the thousands who fell through these, leaving their incomes unprotected and putting businesses, jobs and livelihoods at risk.

“Take, for example, the 40,000+ new mothers who took maternity leave in the last assessment period and were unfairly disadvantaged under the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), and the PAYE and Limited Company Directors who were left without access to an appropriate package of financial support.

“We must also critique the Chancellor’s position that “we cannot safeguard all jobs”, based on the theory that if businesses still need to furlough employees now, that these jobs were never viable. This simply is not true. Take those working in the events industry as an example – these jobs would have been viable if there were not a pandemic, and they certainly will be again post-pandemic, but by then it will be too late.”

“There still remains an urgent need to put women focused policies in place. We know that women have been disproportionately and negatively impacted by the pandemic and the support in place must reflect this. What we need to see now is substantial investment to help women to start and grow sustainable businesses, particularly among diverse communities and BAME and disabled women. Further to this, we need to see policy which values women-led sectors, like the beauty and care sectors, which are typically experiencing a slower return to trade. Investing in the UK’s women entrepreneurs will be crucial in re-opening and growing our economy”.

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