From the top · 1 March 2016

Lingerie visionary outlines measures to boost enterprise in deprived areas

Michelle Mone
Michelle Mone

The government has released the findings of an independent review by lingerie mogul and government advisor Michelle Mone, which aim to increase the rate of new businesses in the most disadvantaged communities across the UK.

Entitled “Boosting enterprise in more deprived communities”, the Ultimo founder’s review recommends the government take a number of measures to improve the environment for starting a business in certain low-income, high-unemployment areas of the country.

Improving access to startup loans for entrepreneurs, strengthening the quality of New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) support, encouraging existing self-employed people to mentor new businesses and asking schools and local authorities to look further into teaching business skills to pupils are cited as just some of the review’s recommendations.

“This report is only the beginning,” Mone said in a statement. “I will continue to work in a personal capacity with high street banks to create a nationwide network of bank-funded enterprise hubs and support more people to become self-employed.

“I was honoured to conduct this review, and to make a series of recommendations that I believe will help strengthen enterprise across the country,” she went on to say.

Despite her review describing entrepreneurship as “thriving” in the UK due to the self-employment rate standing at roughly ten per cent of the working age population, Mone found that people in the ten per cent most deprived areas of Britain were 50 per cent less likely to be self-employed.

Uptake of the NEA – the Department for Work and Pensions’ existing support structure for people looking to access expertise and funding when setting up a business – was found to be largely successful. Backing up Mone’s findings, a poll from January 2016 found that 80 per cent of ventures started with the help of NEA were still in business, with nine in ten having traded for more than a year.

The review has been welcomed by those with a vested interest from government and business alike.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said that it was absolutely right that people from all backgrounds should have access to support when turning an idea into a business. “I welcome this review and remain committed to our startup loans programme which has so far helped more than 35,000 people become their own boss,” he added.

Meanwhile, HSBC’s European commercial banking head Ian Stuart said the review was timely and necessary. “As one of the leading commercial banks in the UK, HSBC is acutely aware of the challenges facing startups. This review outlines a number of ways to help support new enterprises and I look forward to working with Michelle Mone on ways to help overcome barriers.”

Mone was appointed as a peer in the House of Lords in August 2015 and was hastily made a small business tsar by prime minister David Cameron.

Raised in the deprived area of Glasgow’s east end and leaving school at the age of 15 with no qualifications, Mone went on to build the global lingerie brand Ultimo in her twenties. Last year, she sold 80 per cent of the multi-million-pound business to MAS Holdings, maintaining a 20 per cent stake.

“We can foster a more entrepreneurial Britain and improve the lives of families and communities across the country by improving access to loans and mentors, and boosting existing government support to aspiring business leaders,” added Mone.

“People living in deprived areas still face barriers to starting their own business. It is vital we take steps to overcome these and boost their confidence, offering more income security and building better networks.”

Read on to find out how the Labour party would encourage local authorities and councils to become “public entrepreneurs” under Jeremy Corbyn.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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