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Press notice: Issued on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group

The All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group has chosen freelancing as the subject of its next enquiry and report. Freelancers are invited to contribute to the online consultation at www.smallbusinessgroup.org.uk

At the moment there are about 500,000 freelancers in the UK operating by selling their knowledge through their own companies or as sole-traders. They cover disciplines such as IT, engineering, management and business consultancy, journalism and financial advice.

Kerry Pollard, JP, MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group said: "Freelancers provide a power-house that can drive the flexible economy but insufficient attention has been paid to the problems and opportunities they face.

"This report will lead to a better understanding of the importance of this group and the benefits they can bring to the UK and abroad. I believe that, as a result of this work, we will be in a position to help the rest of Europe benefit from the advantages these businesses bring."

The study will also break new ground by inviting freelancers and other interested parties to contribute directly through a online consultation process on the Group's website at www.smallbusinessgroup.org.uk . Freelancers are invited to participate in three weekly consultations covering the benefits they can bring; and the opportunities and threats they face. This will be followed by members of the All Party Group taking verbal evidence in the House of Commons in June.

Mr Pollard continued: "We hope that freelancers themselves will share their experiences with us as part of this research.

" This is the first time that freelancing has been the subject of such a significant exercise to explain how it can impact on the economy. We look forward to using this direct evidence from freelancers and the resulting findings of the Group to bring this important issue to a wider audience through the work of the All Party Group."

Notes to editors.

1. The research is being carried out online on www.smallbusinessgroup.org.uk and is fully visible to any interested party. It will be divided into three distinct sections, each will be the subject of a week-long consultation process directly with freelancers. 1) Why freelancers make a difference; 2) the opportunities facing freelancers; and 3) the threats facing freelancers. In addition to the online consultation, the All Party Group will take evidence at a hearing in the House of Commons on June 11, 2003 at 4pm.

2. This project is being carried out through:
· The All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group - Parliament's largest cross Party special interest group with a membership of more than 440 MPs and Peers;
· the Genesis Initiative, an umbrella initiative for small businesses and a range of representative groups from the small business community;
· Shout99.com, the UK's largest freelancer network which operates online through its interactive website at www.shout99.com

For further information or interviews contact: Susie Hughes, 0207 462 7955 or 07703 486276

susie@shout99.com

May 21, 2003




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