Spring Budget 2017: £30mn spending pledge to support women

Chancellor Philip Hammond took the opportunity afforded to him by International Women’s Day to announce a package of measures to back gender equality.

Women with briefcase illustration
Of the £30mn made available, £20mn will be channeled to tackling domestic violence and abuse.The remainder will be split equally to support projects celebrating 100 years of women’s right vote in the Representation of the People Act in 2018 and "returnships” to help people returning to work after long career breaks.Open to men and women, returnships aim to give people who have taken lengthy career breaks the opportunity to refresh their skills and build professional networks. The government will work with business groups and public sector organisations to identify how to boost further the opportunities for women returning to work.

Acting on an APPG recommendation

In January, the Women and Work All Parliamentary Group (APPG) made a series of recommendations, including introducing paid "returnships" with guaranteed training, advice and support.Commenting earlier today in a Parliamentary debate to mark International Women’s Day, Flick Drummond MP, who serves on the APPG and the Women and Equalities Select Committee, explained the background to the recommendation.“Our first APPG inquiry was about women returning to work and we published our report in January. It seems that this has struck a chord with employers and women up and down the country.

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“There are some very good examples of companies that are already doing it.  But we need to do much more to get people on board and see the wisdom of tapping into older women employees, full of life experience and work-related experience, keen to get back into work. Companies that cannot see the potential are, in my view, missing a big trick.“Put quite simply: there is a huge pool of talent out there. People take time out of the workplace for all sorts of reasons, but the biggest one is caring responsibilities whether it is for children or elderly relations.”

A UK that works for everyone

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, also commented, adding: “When I stood on the steps of Downing Street and said I wanted this to be a country that works for everyone – I meant it. That’s why – on International Women’s Day – I’m pleased to announce £5 million to help mothers returning to work after a long career break.“Women are driving our economy forward, securing 77 per cent of new jobs last year – and now represent a higher percentage of FTSE Board membership than ever before.“Returnships are open to both men and women but we should acknowledge that, more often than not, it is women who give up their careers to devote themselves to motherhood, only to find the route back into employment closed off – the doors shut to them.“This isn’t right, it isn’t fair and it doesn’t make economic sense. So I want to see this scheme extended to all levels of management and into industries where women are underrepresented.”

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