The PR Network visits Number 10

Thursday, 8 August 2013, 13:06 | Category : General
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Never ones to shy away from a chance to talk about ourselves, I was  first in the queue to pass security clearance, a rather bemused officer of the Metropolitan Police and some Japanese tourists and rush into Number 10 to meet Special Advisor Daniel Korski and MP for Skills Matthew Hancock earlier this month.

As one of a few selected from across the UK asked to raise concerns about small business life in the UK, The PR Network was delighted to represent our own community of freelance PR consultants. It turns out the Minister was pretty interested too. I had a detailed discussion about how freelancing (or consulting as we prefer to call it) is proving to be a growing and accepted way of working. With improved infrastructure all over the UK, freelancers like our PRN associates are able to work remotely, flexibly and cost-effectively for clients without compromising on quality. Cue copious note taking from the Minister and his two underlings.

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This is something we’ve felt passionately about for nearly 8 years and a way of life that works for everyone at PRN. I was incredibly proud to represent this view at Number 10 to a positive response from all around the table. Also, it’s something I soon realised we are leading the charge on globally. After a little heated discussion with a US colleague about the merits of freelancing and the cultural differences between us and our cousins ‘over the pond’, it seems that the UK is leading this freelance revolution. We are only too happy to be at the forefront on that trend and our business growth internationally and client portfolio only goes to prove the point!

Other interesting topics raised were how the government could better support start ups with clear signposting and advice. Many around the table felt that they had a lack of support or resource when it came to asking tactical questions like ‘should I be a limited company or a self-employed person’ or further down the life-cycle, ‘where should I look for funding opportunities’. The Minister promised to look into simplifying information available for the growing start-up community.

As you would expect, the discussion moved towards taxation and HMRC. Without dwelling on the negatives, I am sure you can guess what they were! The Minister did discuss a soon to launch application that will make expense capturing a whole heap easier. You heard it here first – but look out for press announcements in the coming weeks. He also talked about bringing employees closer into the business – an announcement that we all felt had not been readily pushed in the media. Take a look at this.

There was also discussion about how difficult it is to bring on part-time staff quickly and easily and whether the Government could look into cutting red tape. This is something we’ve had experience of first hand and we are really supportive of simplifying the recruitment process! Other topics included lobbying big business to pay on quicker payment terms – something we’ve been acutely aware of, but frankly I am not sure if Government could legislate on.

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Aside from a really engaging and passionate discussion, we were all treated to a guided tour of Number 10 and were lead through the sumptuous rooms occupied by Thatcher and Churchill, I marveled at the artwork on display (my untrained eye spotted at least one Emin and several Gainsborough) and much to my excitement, I got to visit the Cabinet Room and see where the big decisions of the week are made. From the Cabinet Room you can just make out the swings and slides and the Cameron family back garden. It really brought it home that not only is this an important and strategic place in history – but someone’s home (bit like freelancing for many!).

As I exited by the staircase made famous by Hugh Grant in Love Actually and Vicky Pollard in Comic Relief,  it was impressive to see that one entire flight of stairs was dedicated to Prime Ministers throughout the Queen’s rule alone.

And finally, as all good visits must include – I made a quick trip to the loo. This was perhaps the most disappointing part of the whole day. No monogrammed paper, no Jo Malone soap, no good reading material. Just a very average, but fairly clean disabled loo. Unlike The PR Network – clearly the loo is not the place for the big decisions in Government.

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We were lucky enough to be invited to the hallowed halls of Westminster as part of Enterprise Nation Club’s programme to help publicise the challenges UK small and medium businesses face.

For those that haven’t heard of them before, Enterprise Nation is a successful UK business club that offers information, benefits and networking opportunities to small businesses and start ups across the UK. It’s headed up by the impressive Emma Jones who makes our networking capabilities look amateur. There is no one Emma doesn’t know and she is passionate about taking the SME fight to some of the most powerful people in the UK.

To learn more about Enterprise Nation visit here, over the years we’ve come across a number of different business and networking clubs and this one is hands down the best to date. To learn more about Enterprise Nation’s perspective on the day’s events visit here.

George

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