Sunday 11 October 2015

Business Rates in Barnet and why the Conservatives are not the party of ambition

Back in 1979 I started a business. I didn't know I was starting a business then. All I wanted was somewhere for my band to rehearse and a few pennies in my pocket to spend on living the rock and roll lifestyle. I was still at school. During that period, I had a few months running the business under a Labour government. It is fair to say that the government of the day had no influence on my decision to start a business. Then Thatcher won the election. From 1979 until 1997, Thatcher then Major ran the show. In this period my studio grew from one studio to have five studios and a shop. During this period, I didn't make a penny. Why? Because I had to reinvest every penny in the business to develop it. What I have learned is that banks don't lend money to people who run studios. In 1997 Blair took over. Then Brown took over. During this period we made a fortune? Why? Because the money we reinvested paid off. We reached the critical mass where we could make money. We sat back and the cash rolled in. Then in 2010 Cameron took over. Since then, we've not made a penny. Why? Because we again embarked on a major expansion. As ever, we funded this ourselves (although the bank did fund the property aspect of the development, mostly because it was a no brainer even for a bank!).

Our business breaks all the rules. I like to employ the unemployable. Two of my key staff over the years previously hadn't worked for years due to long term industrial injuries. One of my key members of staff joined us for "work experience" at 14, sent by his school because he was a trouble maker. He now has a degree and full time job. He works for us part time in the evenings. Our first chief recording engineer was female. I was told that women couldn't do the job, which seemed like an excellent reason to employ one.

After a period of five years making nothing, ploughing all our savings into the business, we are again looking at a profit. If we don't do any more expansion and growth, we'll have a nice comfy few years. Why am I sharing all this? To emphasise a few points. The first is that I am traditionally skint when the Tories are in power! I am far better off under Labour. Bt having said that, as I am sure you figured out for yourself, this has nothing to do with the governments. In fact, as a small business, there is nothing the government has ever done that has been the slightest bit of help. Both Tories and Labour have heaped regulation upon regulation on small business. None of them have a clue. George Osborne has announced massive rises in the minimum wage. Whilst this is in some ways good, it will hit small business hard. We get no breaks at all. Unlike Starbucks and Google, we cant salt our profits away abroad. We pay our taxes and we play the game. I constantly hear that the Tories are the party of ambition, but I see no evidence. They are the party of making a permissive tax regime for billionaires.

Now they have said local authorities can set and keep business rates locally. My experience of Barnet is that they hate small business and have no interest in helping them. Ask small traders like Helen Michael, who's business has been ruined by the abolition of Pay and Display cash parking. She used to be a Tory until they screwed her business. Ask anyone whether they think the local Tories will reward ambition and they'll just laugh. My first experenice with Barnet Council was on rates appeals. These take years to resolve. All this time you pay. Thousands of pounds. I asked the council why they took so long. A Tory councoillor said "It is irrelevant, appeals are always rejected". I won all mine and have saved thousands. These are the people who will be setting my rates. god help us

1 comment:

Mr Mustard said...

Most businesses are small businesses many nowadays micro enterprises run from home. Do the council know about them? no they don't. I can tell you which businesses are run from my road from architecture, through graphic design, greeting cards design, dog walking, legal services, filming, computer repair, training, restoration work to acting. The only ones which the council know exist are the ones whose registered office happens to be at the home address. They don't know of any others (many of which are not structured as Limited companies).

Let me predict anyway that they won't be interested as we don't have to pay business rates if we only use a single room for business. The council will not be interested in finding out who all those businesses are to help them to grow to then take on staff as they haven't been so far.

The council see businesses as entities which can be soaked for high taxes and service charges e.g. a business vehicle permit is £525 whereas for an individual it is £40.

Would I take advice from a council about how to run my business? (est 1987) Based on how they run the council (employing unlicensed security guards, investing money in Icelandic get rich quick schemes, making decisions which fail a judicial review, selling a depot before finding a new one etc) never in a million years.