*             Applications open for funding grants of between £200,000 and £600,000 for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector who specialise in women’s wellbeing services

*             The funding will ensure women experiencing reproductive issues – such as the menopause or pregnancy loss – are better supported to remain in or return to the workplace throughout their careers

*             This reaffirms government’s commitment to level up women’s health and tackle disparities by supporting people in work and helping the NHS use its record funding to clear the Covid backlog

Women experiencing the menopause, fertility problems, miscarriage and pregnancy loss, menstrual health and gynaecological conditions in the workplace will be supported to remain in or return to the workplace by a multi-million pound funding boost to voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations.

This government is committed to levelling up health disparities and to recognise the need to better support women’s health in the workplace, grants of between £200,000 to £600,000 per applicant will be available over the next three years to expand and develop projects or programmes in these areas. 

The funding will support projects and programmes working with communities to provide training for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) where internal support in the workplace is unlikely to be available and supporting individuals by signposting to clinical services, and helping them to address personal and workplace barriers to improve their wellbeing.

There are strong links between health and employment, with evidence showing work is good for physical and mental wellbeing. Higher life expectancy is strongly correlated with higher employment rates and the most deprived local areas experience the worst health and employment outcomes.

Moving from employment to unemployment is estimated to increase GP consultation rates for an individual by 50 per cent due to its impact on people’s health. Supporting people in work not only helps them as individuals but also reduces the pressure on the NHS and allows healthcare professionals to continue using record funding to clear the Covid backlog.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Millions of women work across the country and all employers should have plans to ensure the right support is in place for women experiencing reproductive issues and the menopause.

“I’m committed to levelling up women’s health and reducing disparities, not only through today’s funding, but more widely through our ground-breaking Women’s Health Strategy, urgently tackling HRT supply issues and my intention to sign the Menopause Workforce Pledge to support civil servants experiencing the menopause at work.”

Minister for Women’s Health Maria Caulfield said:

“Women’s health shouldn’t impact their employment opportunities.

“This grant funding will ensure the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector is able to better support women who are experiencing reproductive health issues to remain in or return to the workplace.

“We’re levelling up women’s health through this fund alongside our pledge to support women experiencing the menopause in the civil service, tackling current HRT supply issues and our upcoming Women’s Health Strategy.”

Building on the government’s ambitions in the Women’s Health Vision <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.uk%2Fgovernment%2Fnews%2Fgovernment-sets-clear-ambition-to-close-gender-health-gap–3&data=05%7C01%7C%7Ce927f836a45e4a7112c808da3426b7f0%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637879638141826794%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=miTep%2Be%2FTe16YDZbg1P%2FChovyxvbK%2FYooXGqUVwlbVo%3D&reserved=0>  to help women in the workplace to reach their full potential, the grant fund aims to ensure:

*             women feel supported in the workplace

*             taboos are broken down through open conversation

*             employers feel well equipped to support women in managing their health within the workplace.

The VCSE sector provides expert work and health support to women experiencing reproductive health issues impacting their experience in the workplace. This is particularly vital for women who are less likely to have access to expert work and health support, such as occupational health support, via their employer, which may include women working for small employers or who are self-employed. As a result, applications for programmes aiming to provide training and awareness for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) where assistance schemes are unlikely to be available are particularly encouraged.

The government will publish the Women’s Health Strategy later this year and will also appoint a Women’s Health Ambassador to drive women’s health to the top of the agenda. These steps will mean better healthcare earlier and reduce the pressure on the NHS as work continues to clear the Covid backlog.

Prof Geeta Nargund, co-founder of the Ginsburg Women’s Health Board, senior NHS consultant and medical director at CREATE Fertility, said:

“The government’s grant funding for workplace support of women’s reproductive health is a very welcome step. It is vital that women have access to the support and protection they need with their reproductive health in their places of work if we are to tackle the gender health gap – through this grant, the Government will be able to help employers in achieving this.

“While the grant is currently focused on the VCSE sector, my hope is that it could prove a useful blueprint for expanding workplace reproductive support to all sectors.”

The government continues to work collaboratively and transparently with industry to ensure women can access HRT now and in the long-term. The Health and Social Care Secretary, Minister for Women’s Health and the newly appointed Head of the HRT Supply Taskforce Madelaine McTernan met with suppliers and manufacturers at a roundtable last week to discuss solutions. This is in addition to the government issuing Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) to limit the dispensing of three HRT products to three months’ supply.


Notes to editors

*             The application portal for the VCSE grant fund will open on Friday 13 May and close on Friday 5 August.

*             The aim of the Health and Wellbeing Fund is to promote equalities and reduce health inequalities by building the evidence base about good practice, sharing lessons, and widening the adoption of interventions with a proven track record. The Health and Wellbeing Fund focuses on one specific theme each year, which is agreed across the system partners and in co-production with the VCSE sector.

*             The Women’s Health Vision was published 23 December 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-clear-ambition-to-close-gender-health-gap–3 <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.uk%2Fgovernment%2Fnews%2Fgovernment-sets-clear-ambition-to-close-gender-health-gap–3&data=05%7C01%7C%7Ce927f836a45e4a7112c808da3426b7f0%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637879638141826794%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=miTep%2Be%2FTe16YDZbg1P%2FChovyxvbK%2FYooXGqUVwlbVo%3D&reserved=0>