Business development · 8 March 2016

Only 20 per cent of small firms export to the EU, but all are constrained by red tape

Andrea Leadsom
One in five SMEs have female leaders
Energy and climate change minister Andrea Leadsom has called for small business leaders to reconsider the benefits of staying in Europe, pointing to the high costs that red tape inflicts on small enterprises.

The comments were made on Radio 4’s Today programme ahead of the International Women’s Day launch of pro-Brexit campaign group Women for Britain, which is also supported by employment minister PrittI Patel who recently compared the women fighting for a Brexit to the?suffragettes.

Patel argued recently:?”While we remain in the EU, the potential and ambition of women is being held back.”

Leadsom also highlighted that one in five SMEs have female leaders, compared to fewer than ten per cent of big UK companies. Research by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) published in 2010 revealed that?86 per centof these female-run companies were micro businesses.

Female voters are currently far more likely to be undecided over how they will vote in the forthcoming referendum, with fewer than one-third certain as to how they will vote, according to?recent polling.

The launch of the all-women out? campaign follows the formation in January of a female pressure group focused on the arguments for remaining in the EU, backed by business leaders including Business Advice?Small Business Decision Makerskathryn Parsons, Karen Brady and Martha Lane Fox.

In an open letter to the London Evening Standard signed by in excess of 50 high-profile women, the group argued: Free trade agreements have enabled businesses to crack new markets, regulation has been aligned to allow us to operate across Europe and travel round the continent has been made quicker, easier and cheaper.



Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics as well as running a tutoring company.

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