So the Payments Council has shelved plans to abolish the use of cheques by 2018. Let’s face it cheques are a pain. You need to get them to a bank and there is the possibility they can bounce. For us 5 miles out of town banking is a real hassle and to be honest (and against my better judgement) often gets left. That’s because it takes an hour to do it and if you go to Winchester you have to pay to park as well. Cheques are a pain.
But here’s the rub. For a small business they are the only way other than cash (and don’t get me talking about the daylight robbery of banks charging to bank cash) that you can freely transact at the time of settlement. Card payments are great but there is a cost in equipment and for a micro business this may not be viable. I’m sure that the banks have a wonderful business case in support of card payments but they are not free – they are not even cheap.
So until they can come up with a viable alternative, let’s no be so daft as to remove the only alternative for a lot of small business. Let’s face it, if there was an alternative we’d use it and cheques would die out naturally.
Now I went to an event in Manchester recently put on by a government body travelled up the day before. Im doing my bit to try and keep up with new regulation. This is a two day event and the average day rate is over £300 per day. So for the 200 plus folk there, Im calculating the revenues were over £120k. Assuming it costs around £50 per person per day to host the conference; that makes a total cost of £20k. The rest of the revenue (around £100k) must therefore cover the other expenses of putting on the event. Lets say there are 20 government reps there each day. That gives budget of £2500 per rep. That seems a lot to me. I booked the Premier Inn (with dinner less than £100) and went by train (again under£100). Am I missing something here, or is my charge for attending subsiding some other aspect of their operation.
It seems to me like the unwritten agenda these days is to get Government paid for by back door taxes. So now we have a Fire Brigade who have to behave like a Police Force. Businesses can no longer rely on the Fire Service for advice on how to make their businesses comply with the law. It is our job to do that and ensure safety. Now who is the expert here. I do possess a modicum of common sense, but in case I should fall foul in some way I can now rely on the Fire Service to come in and fine me. And after all as a business thats the only service Im going to get from the Fire Service.
And if I need to call a policeman I rest happily in the reassurance that if he is arriving on his bike he now has a 93 page manual to tell him how to ride it. Now I havent read this document first hand but my sources tell me it contains such nuggets as advice to not apprehend a suspect whilst still on the bike.
Within medicine we have similar situations. Now dont get me wrong. As a society we need to make sure that our medicines are safe and we are not letting criminals into our supply chains. But how are we doing this ever more regulation. And as a company we have to pay more to be ever more regulated. This regulation creep is destroying competitiveness. Its no longer important that you know what you are doing. Its more important to be able to explain that you have a written procedure for it and that come the revolution you can prove that you have covered your own backside.
As far as Im concerned the net result of all this regulation is leading us to a society where the state will regulate every aspect of our daily life. Its also tax by stealth to finance yet more quangos. As a country we are agonising as to how to compete with the emerging economies. The plain truth is that we are bringing up a generation of kids who are actively discouraged from using initiative and common sense. These days we need a procedure for everything. Without common sense how is Britain ever going to be Great again?
So we have an England cricket team which has won two games in a row. So we can forget about the six consequetive humblings at the hands of the Aussies now we are bestowed with success. I watched some of the game against Sri Lanka and had that sinking feeling that again we were going to let them off the hook from 17 for 4. But the batters played as a team and got the result. And at least that means that next time we won’t be watching waiting for an inevitable fall apart. They might just win again.So apparently we have an X factor contestant who supplements her income by lapdancing. Does lapdancing somehow affect someone’s ability to sing. What a nation of hypocrites we are. It seems to me that we have developed a national pastime – encouraged by reality TV shows – of encouraging people to display their talents so that friends and journalists can sieve around for something to shoot these people down with. I haven’t heard this girl sing, but I wish her good luck and just hope that as a nation we can mature to the point where this kind of revelation doesn’t come out.
So Mel and I went out today and finished up in Sainsbury’s at Hatch Warren with a desire to top up the weekly shopping. Now we had no problem in the shop – although the service was not as exceptional as Badger Farm when the assistant at the checkout overheard Mel say we may need crackers to go with our cheese and promptly ran off to fetch a selection for us to choose from. On that occasion we left feeling valued and impressed by the level of service.
Not so today in the Coffee Shop at Hatch Warren. The jobs worth in charge of the cafe decided to pull down the electronic shutters just after 3.30 and leave all us punters to drink our teas and coffees in a dungeon like state. When I remonstrated with the jobs worth I was told she only had 20 minutes to the end of her shift and she had lots to do in that time. Why she couldn’t leave this task for a further 15 minutes was beyond me – other than to encourage us to leave as soon as possible. So my sugestion is don’t patronise Sainsbury’s Cafe at Hatch Warren.
So you get out of the habit of doing and then what do you know, months have passed by. There’s no real reason for not doing it other than the habit of doing it has slipped off the radar. The trouble for me is that no-one sends me an email reminding me to do it, so it’s then down to self discipline and an aging memory. And that’s the most unreliable aspect. My way to deal with this is to set myself a recurring task in my Todo list – in fact just in case I have put something in Outlook and also in my Todo list on the iPhone.The other areas which have kept me busy have been the development of Mel’s pet care business – Home or Away Petcare -in fact Jasper has been cuddled up as I type away. Business Development at The Dove Clinic and European Nutripharm have also made for interesting times. Added to that is my ongoing role as vice chair of the FSB’s (Federation of Small Business) Southampton and District branch, (a short break there as the alarm clock which is Peter and Barney who seem to bark right on the nail of 6am every morning), my work on the current Mayor of Winchester’s Charities, and a bit of help with the South Wonston Youth Club.So back again soon
So we’ve got to the time of year when council budgets need to be spent, but they can, of course, only be spent in specific areas. When I was in Southampton yesterday, I noticed a plethora of new road signs which look very clean and tidy. Of course when you look at the function of a road sign it is to tell you the name of the road and the area in which you are. It reminded me that in our village recently we have had two signs installed pointing the way to three or four terraced houses down a footpath – there’s one at each end. My point in bitching on about this is that we have an ever deteriorating road network with more and more potholes appearing, and yet the councils cannot afford to repair them. We just seem to be getting our priorities all messed up.
So a good friend of mine has to go to court because her dog allegedly bit someone. On the face of it a bit without evidence and without witnesses. Now I’m all for prosecuting wrong doing but this is a barmy waste of tax payers money. I know this dog, I see her five or six times a week and she is a mild mannered placid dog. But because of one unsubstantiated complaint from a guy with a chip on his shoulder about something, this is going to court. Not once but twice – the second time is because when it goes first time she will plead not guilty and because of this it gets referred to another court. And we as taxpayers are paying for this. In any kind of sensible world the dog warden (who has visited – no doubt at further cost) would have the jurisdiction to decide whether the dog proved any kind of threat and could deal with it appropriately. Instead we get on this legal merry go round. What a nonsense.
So we now have a cricket match in the West Indies that can’t take place because the outfield is unplayable. What on earth has happened to this great game. We have administrators worrying about advertising on pads but they can’t seem to get a match played on a playable pitch. It all comes down to getting the basics right first, and if you can’t get that right don’t bother about those seemingly trifling niceties. This is a frighteningly similar scenario to that which we see in business. We have a country full of failed banks, who seem to have concentrated on becoming salesmen (especially insurance) but have lost sight on being able to do what they are supposed to do i.e banking.
So it’s a first, but not a last from me. I heard a story today – I don’t know if it’s true – but it sounds likely. Apparently there was a farmer clearing snow with his tractor, making the roads safe and ploughing a path into a local car park. But that won’t do for the local council health and safety guys. They insisted he stopped because apparently he was causing a health and safety problem. They insisted he stopped. I sense a grumpy moment coming on. When the hell are we going to let common sense prevail in this country.