Women who want to start their own businesses will be offered flexible loans to cover childcare costs and  payment breaks when they have a family under radical new plans to boost the numbers of female entrepreneurs.

A major new report has highlighted shocking barriers that many females face when starting up a business in a move that is potentially costing the UK economy around £250 billion.

The Treasury-commissioned report, written by the woman tipped to become the next chief executive of RBS, Alison Rose, offers a range of solutions to boost female start-ups.

These include targeting primary school girls to teach them about business and get them interested in high-growth Stem subjects where they can start their firm.

RBS is currently investigating how to launch new banking products aimed at women, which will provide extra flexibility to those juggling a business and childcare costs.

One idea would be to offer loans that will allow women to take payment breaks when they start a family, which is viewed as being a major barrier for female entrepreneurs.

Many banks and investors view young women as more risky investments because they will take maternity leave and may be unable to repay loans or grow their business.

Now Ms Rose, who is deputy chief executive of NatWest Holdings and CEO, Commercial and Private Banking, is looking to revolutionise how women are viewed by investors.

She said: “One of the biggest barriers that women face is they are often the primary care providers and are viewed as more of a risk as a result and that has to change.

“Many face a hidden bias from venture capitalists and there needs to be far greater risk awareness. 

“I have challenged my team to create new banking products specifically to support entrepreneurs with family care responsibilities and we will be undertaking customer research to develop a product that meets their needs.

“There is not just one silver bullet that will transform the landscape overnight though, it will take time and commitment. There needs to be a change in attitude, which also includes within families themselves.”

According to her report, female entrepreneurs typically have to start businesses with only half as much capital as men.

But if women were able to start businesses at the same rate as men, there would be 1.1 million more female-led companies in the UK and generate around £250bn to the economy.

Women-only funding teams were given just £32 million in investment in 2017, while male-only teams received more than £5bn, according to official figures from the British Business Bank.

Start-ups run by women receive just 0.5 per cent of the total invested by venture capital funds – its lowest level in a decade. 

The Treasury yesterday pledged to have 600,000 more women starting their own businesses by 2030, as part of a range of measures responding to the Rose Review.

Banks and investment funds will also be urged to sign up to a new Investing in Women Code to track the amount of funding they give female entrepreneurs.

The code will report on progress annually and suggest steps financial firms can take to close the funding gap for female entrepreneurs.