June 2010 Archives
The announcement yesterday that nine English RDAs will indeed be axed came after a long-running spat within the Conservative Party over the future of RDAs.
The announcement also represents something of victory for Tory Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles over Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The latter had only very recently suggested that RDAs in the West Midlands and North of England could survive in some form.
But, as noted by the Birmingham Post, Cable and Pickles have now written to council and business leaders, inviting them to replace RDAs with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
To me the term "Direct Marketing" (DM) describes the tactic of annoying as many strangers as possible with junk, in the hope that a tiny percentage might be interested in buying your product.
Like most people I spend a good deal of my time trying to avoid getting on and removing myself from marketing databases and failing miserably.
For instance, I once foolishly bought a ticket to Villa Park online. I now get regular Christmas cards from The Villa despite being a Hull fan! Which frankly is an unwelcome reminder of the 0-3 defeat we suffered that day.
I take great pleasure in being rude to telesales people too. I like to explain just how low down on the food chain they are and give them career advice about contributing positively to society rather than doing the evil work of a brand that are paying them a pittance in order to interrupt my dinner.
Growing up in Dundee in the 70s and 80s, a meal out at one of the City of Discovery's curry houses was a big treat. Dundee's role as the historic centre of the jute trade meant it had closer links to the Indian sub-continent than might otherwise have been the case for a small city in north-east Scotland whose other claims to fame were Captain Scott's doomed trip to the Antarctic, marmalade, whaling, the Beano and the Dandy. Indeed, the Gunga Din, which enjoyed Clan Pemble's custom for many a year, was the first Indian restaurant in the UK to feature in the Good Food Guide, which I hope you'll agree isn't at all shabby.
But, and proud as I am of my home town and its curry, I wouldn't dare to suggest that Dundee played as important a role in the development of our national dish as the Good Ship Brum. I'm hardly being controversial in saying that our city has played a pivotal role in Britain's curry revolution.
So, imagine my surprise at this story from last week's Post: Cobra, the "made-for-curry beer brewed with less fizz", has declared the London Borough of Bromley to be the UK's curry capital because its ratio of one curry house per 853 residents means it is the curry hot spot (I'm not sure if that was a deliberate pun) for the UK. Brum doesn't get a mention; nor, to name three other obvious pretenders to Britain's curry crown, do Bradford, Manchester or Brick Lane in London.
We have come to expect that politicians are involved in almost continuous symbolic gestures - the visit to the troops on the front line, touring schools, travelling to the scene of a disaster, shaking hands with endless lines of people - none of these is really necessary in operational or even strategic terms. But recent cases show that somewhere along the line we have come to expect it. Remember the opprobrium heaped on George W Bush when he was apparently reluctant to visit New Orleans after catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. Or the public outrage when the queen stayed away from London after Diana died - or the public demand for a flag flying at half mast over Buckingham Palace. There are many many more examples of course and whatever you might think about many things he did, Tony Blair was the master of this. He made sure the right tone was upheld as a way to illustrate to the general public what the view of the government was. He knew the value of the right image in communicating the message he wanted to get across.
Now that the initial dust has settled on the budget there is time for some reflection on the measures introduced.
Much has already been said about the increase in VAT and the lower than expected CGT rate but tucked away in the press releases is a little gem that has been largely overlooked.
Government is going to end the effective requirement to use a pension fund to buy an annuity by age 75.
This week's emergency budget was never going to be about saving the planet, but about saving the UK's AAA credit rating whilst avoiding a double dip recession.
Make no mistake. This is going to be eye-wateringly painful, and it's a huge gamble.
Labour had anyway penciled in some ÃÂ£73 billion worth of tax increases and spending cuts from 2011 in the toughest public spending round since the second world war. Osborne has just whacked on another ÃÂ£40 billion of tightening.
In so doing he unveiled another $32 billion in public spending cuts, ÃÂ£11 billion in welfare reductions and ÃÂ£8 billion in tax increases. Ouch.
We'll leave aside the fact that the Lib Dems had during the election opposed earlier cuts because the recovery was not yet in place, and had opposed a VAT increase as being regressive. I'll leave my blogging colleague John Clancy to offer an informed take on how he sees the Lib Dems and Vince cable in particular in this context (see here).
Well, the banks and bankers caused this mess, but West Midlands businesses and West Business people will be paying to get us out of it. Never in the field of economic conflict has so much money been owed by so few to so many. And never have so few paid so little.
We all pay an extra ÃÂ£10billion in VAT and the Banks from their massive windfall profits pay ÃÂ£2billion. That's the equation.
The last government didn't get it and this government certainly doesn't get it. The Banks are the problem and clinging on to the notion that we need them, or we go bust if we leave them, is as ridiculous as the deficit hysteria and, indeed, deficit porn that is all over the media.
The Banks who only get landed with a ÃÂ£2billion bill in the levy in today's budget continue to pay out terrible rates of interest to savers and rack up mortgage and loan rates to borrowers, even though interest rates are still at an all time low of 0.5%.
We bail them out and the double whammy is that they charge us more for doing it. They continue to fail to invest in business and force them into insolvency and liquidation, even though they'd be in the same state now if we hadn't stepped in to bail them out.
We're paying twice.
With construction projects being axed by the government, maybe it is time again to ask the question in the board room: Does our current business model still deliver the goods?
This is the research question of the paper "Retrench or Refresh" published by the accounting and management consulting firm Grant Thornton UK LLP. 60 senior executives of property and construction companies took part in the global survey. The findings, published in the report "A long, hard road ahead: Business model change in the UK property & construction sector", are interesting.