Helping one million more women into work by 2020

February 8, 2015 12:01 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will set a new ambition to help 1m more women into work by 2020.

In a speech to a business audience at the British Chamber of Commerce conference on Tuesday (10 February), Nick will call for the government and business to "think big" and work together to "smash the glass ceiling".

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He will call the target "ambitious" but "not out of reach".

Year on year the number of women in work is increasing, but Nick will call for progress to be accelerated by "removing the barriers that stop women who want to work from being able to do so".

In government Liberal Democrats have delivered a range of policies to support women in work, including shared parental leave, flexible working rights and support for carers returning to work.

Nick will also outline Liberal Democrat plans for the next Parliament to help achieve this goal including:

  • Introducing a month's use-it-or-lose-it paternity leave to incentivise fathers to take time off after their baby is born.
  • Expanding free childcare further, to 15 hours a week for all two-year-olds and 20 hours for all three and four-year-olds.
  • Providing more support for carers to help them return to work if they want to, including increasing the amount they can earn before benefits are withdrawn.
  • Increasing incentives to work by raising the tax free allowance to £12,500, completing the roll out of Universal Credit and extending free school meals to all primary school children.
  • Requiring companies employing more than 250 members of staff to publish the average pay of their male and female workers.

Nick will also use his speech to challenge businesses to embrace policies to help women into work and close the gender pay gap.

He will say:

"If we are to stand a chance of smashing that glass ceiling we need British business to hold the hammer.

"My challenge to you is to embrace change. Embrace shared parental leave. Embrace flexible working. Close the gender pay gap.

"If we can unlock the talents of women, British business will boom. We will be more innovative, more entrepreneurial, more dynamic.

"We need to think big. We need to do things differently. But, as any successful entrepreneur knows, that is exactly what it takes to succeed."