Thursday, 20 January 2011

"There is no such thing as a good tax" - Winston Churchill

Fair enough - there will always be some who view tax, per se, as an evil, I for one realise that taxation (with representation) pays for all the social good a developed society offers (health, policing, education, care for the elderly etc) and as such is a "necessary evil". I partake of the benefits so should contribute my fair share for the costs thereof.

However, what Churchill also went on to say was “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”  Had he been around today his words would have fallen on deaf ears.

What the Coalitionistas (HMG) and their predecessors have done is to target alcohol, more specifically beer, as the cash-cow that will sustain their other policies. The great democratic drink, beer, that has been a part of this country's heritage and culture  (drunk when the water was too foul to consume and now as part of a developed social structure) and its brewers and drinkers have been continually abused by rapacious chancellors.

We now pay more than nine times the amount of duty than France and Germany for the "privilege" of supping our national tipple and contribute an estimated 40% of all duty collected within the EU - a staggering £3.1 billion.

When will this Tory led administration take heed of one of its greatest figures and realise that the common man and woman in this country who enjoy a few beers are fed up with being the ones to pay for their other priorities, such as protecting their political allies and financial backers from paying their fair share of tax ( to wit, off shore status and the ridiculous minimum pricing they propose for alcohol) or benefitting from the largesse of the tax purse with bail-outs to corrupt banking institutions?

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them ..." it would appear that this was good enough for Winnie but not the proletariat ... nuff said!

Monday, 10 January 2011

BII Business Magazine

Just got my January 2011 edition ... as promised full of great stuff for the pub trade ... until you look at it in detail.

I shan't go into all the detail of the BII's work on codes of practice for pubcos, training etc.

What irks me is that for a professional body, the BII (or its copywriters/editor) gives some pretty rum advice ... or in the case of Phil Dixon, opinion. His 20 ways to improve trade are generally sound advice until you get to point 18.

Here he recommends that a drinks offer at the end of a match (25-50p off a pint) be run for 15 minutes after the final whistle, after a particular team loses ... the BBPA guidance on running responsible drinks promotions specifically indicates that one shouldn't run a promotion that is linked to unpredictable events - e.g. ‘Free drinks for five minutes after every England goal’ or are an incentive to speed drinking"

I would venture that the advice Mr Dixon is giving in his article is in direct conflict with this guidance. This is just symptomatic of the mixed message industry bodies give out and they really should get their act together.

My advice ... don't run this promotion (save your profit to reward customers in a more meaningful way, say, on some extra channel blocks for the urinals when all those footie fans take their half/full - time pees!)

And as for the article on The Martin's Arms in Colston Basset - what on earth is representative about that? 2 hunts meet for their stirrup cups, the Prince of Wales occasionally pops in for a pint and it has a Michelin Star - not exactly run of the mill is it? 

Spend more time on highlighting extraordinary pubs that real people frequent (not the "well heeled residents" featured in this Horse and Hound piece) ... the only good things about the article are the sound advice to spend some money on flowers (although who can afford £90 a week and £25 a week for a flower arranger?) and the advice on only putting prices up once (at budget time if you can afford to absorb the VAT and suppliers' price increases in the interim).

Oh, OK then .... they have been there 21 years and have undoubtedly worked their collective arses off to make the place a success and the industry needs to champion its best and brightest ... just feel this was a missed opportunity for the BII and the owners of the Martin's Arms to pass on some really useful hints, tips and advice to the less well placed.  

Rant over ... and as it's less than 15 miles from Nottingham might just have to save my pennies and pay it a visit and see if it's all it's cracked up to be ... good job I don't like Peroni (at £4.30 a pint before the VAT and budget!)