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Happy New Year!

Ray Stewart Business, General Leave a Comment

I can’t believe that another year is drawing to a close.  I suppose it must be a sign of old age that the years are accelerating.

I also can’t believe all the changes we have endured over the last 12 months.  This time last year we were eagerly looking forward to a general election to replace the unelected prime minister Gordon Brown.  Now I look back at the election, the days of uncertainty, the historic coalition starting – and wonder where it all went wrong.

We are now in a worse state than we were under Labour.  Jobs are set to disappear from April 2011 onwards as the cuts really start to bite.  English students are facing huge debts if they are stupid enough to want to better themselves by going to University but the Welsh students still have a cap on their fees and the Scottish students still have free education.  My daughter at University in Wales at the moment doesn’t pay prescription charges on her medication unless she falls ill whilst at home here in Lecestershire where prescription charges still apply.

We have a weird country where the Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are part of the UK but make their own financial decisions – but the English have nothing.  We are told that private enterprise is growing fast and will easily be able to create jobs for the millions of public servants about to join the dole queue.  We are told the funding for the NHS is actually growing but huge job losses are needed to balance the books.  I have seen little evidence of substantial growth in the small businesses I have contact with.

It seems we have swapped one bunch of incompetants in government for another bunch.  They promised the earth to get into power and then immediately u-turn on their promises.  Immigration, taxes, education, the NHS – are all examples of failed promises otherwise known as lies.

So as we lurch into the new year it is hard to look positively into the future.  In a few days time VAT goes up to 20% making most things dearer for people to buy.  Not just luxury items though such as cars, tv’s and double glazing – but on hair cuts, clothing, cakes, tissues (for all those with flu) all become more expensive.

I have been told that it is only another 2.5% but only a year ago the rate had been 15% for 13 months so really we have seen a huge rise in a year of 5%.  We also have a national insurance rise for employers of 1% coming in April just as all those people lose their jobs and start looking for new ones in the “booming economy” we keep being told about.

I don’t know where the government get their figures from but from an accountant’s point of view nothing makes any sense.   Making private businesses soak up the job cuts then hitting everyone with tax rises.  It seems to add up to the millionaires in our government but not to us “ordinary” people.

The supplier of our brilliant paperless office program has proven how much waste there is in just one hospital trust in the way the trust runs it’s building projects but when I showed my letter highlighting this to David Cameron to the MD of that company he went mad at me.  He is so scared of upsetting the contract with that certain trust that he will not name and shame them for the good of the country just in case they sue him.  The amount of money in just one aspect of this trust’s activities being wasted was truly epic.  We are talking in £millions.  If one trust in one aspect of it’s operation could save 10% of it’s £150 million annual building budget then the consquences for the country would be huge.  But he begged me not to say anything so I haven’t.  This is how scared the private sector are about the future.

I can only hope David Cameron reads this and takes action because the waste of time and materials is not limited to this one trust, it is nationwide.  It beggars belief though that the trust in question uses oracle for its own bookkeeping but there isn’t anyone in the trust who can successfully extract meaningful information from it.  They can’t even produce a report that balances.  And multi million pound decisions are being made on the basis of duff information.  When the trust in question saw the scale of incompetence in the bookkeeping did they embrace the new system and celebrate saving a 100 jobs.  No.  They cancelled the work because it made them look incompetant.  That is the quality of the NHS managers but I bet they will not be the ones losing their jobs.

I didn’t mean this to be a government bashing post but the decisions and u-turns already made are confusing and do not help us to look forward with anything other than confusion and more than a little despair.

Let’s hope I am wrong – and that I can make a much more promising forecast for the olympic year 2012 in a year’s time.

Happy new year!


Ray Stewart
I am a qualified Certified Practising Accountant having passed my final exams way back in 1981. I actually can’t believe that was 37 years ago!! Anyway, I am now in my 60’s and I have been running my own business since May 1983. And before you ask, no, I have never regretted a moment of it! Part of the membership requirements of my professional body now dictate that I spend quite a lot of time on “CPD” - continuing professional education (one of their better ideas) - and over the last two years I decided to study business growth and marketing. I have learnt such a lot and that knowledge has radically changed my old “accountants” approach to business. It has made such a difference to the way I work and operate I feel that I just have to pass on this knowledge. It is simply too powerful to hold back!! - but I will try and do it in simple terms rather than expecting you to spend hours, as I had to, working through the difficult language that trainers seem to use to pass on their concepts. I hope you find the blog a useful resource and interesting place to visit as the months pass. I will do my best to keep up the flow - but if there are any topics you would like me to cover, then please let me know. Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart

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