Month: June 2018

Must-Read Letter In The FT Today

 We are a 95 per cent export manufacturer of high tech instrumentation, so we have a lot of experience in overseas trade. On May 24 the head of HM Revenue & Customs estimated that post-Brexit, import-export may cost industry £20bn extra at UK borders. With £10m of exports, 75 per cent outside the EU, and £1.5m of imports, 85% non-EU, we are in a good position to give a realistic figure for these costs.

All imports enter under Inward Processing Relief, and no taxes are paid at the border. Goods may remain in the UK for up to nine months free of duty and value added tax. Duty and VAT become payable if the goods are sold within the EU, but not if they are exported outside. When we sell our equipment to a Japanese company, we invoice free of VAT as an export. It collects ex-works and delivers worldwide, sometimes direct to a customer within the EU. It will invoice without VAT as, being based in Japan, it is not VAT registered. It is that company’s customer who must record and pay VAT, on the basis that it is an import even though the goods may have crossed no frontiers.

Our VAT and tax returns are made on a monthly and quarterly basis, with payment by direct debit. Every two to three years, HMRC audits our record-keeping. Maintaining this system requires a skilled person for one or two days a week at a £50 hourly rate for 500 hours per year, the annual cost is £25,000. We also employ shipping agents at a £70,000 annual cost, of which over 90 per cent is transport charges. Our cost for import-export paperwork is about £32,000.

Our largest tax is the 20 per cent VAT charged on importing goods from the EU, just as from the US or Japan. This will not change after Brexit, although there may be a 3-5 per cent duty if no deal is done. The cost in additional paperwork will therefore be no more than 10 per cent of the present £32,000. We will incur an average 4 per cent duty on our £225,000 of EU imports, but will recover 95 per cent of this on exporting, so duties will cost the company about £500. Assuming we do business with the EU on terms no worse than the rest of the world, the cost will be around £3,700, or 0.04 per cent of our £10m turnover. Compared to currency exposure where rates can change by 1 per cent daily, this is a negligible figure, so Brexit on any terms will not change our business.

Jeremy Good 
Director, Cryogenic Ltd, London W3, UK

From The Sublime To The Ridiculous

LCC gritters are in action to stop roads melting . There’s not a snowflake in sight but Lancashire’s gritters have been busy treating the roads this week, to stop them melting in the heat. The current heatwave has led to road surfaces softening in some places, which can then stick to vehicle tyres, and make the surface slippery.

Gritters have been putting down granite dust on sticky spots to provide a protective layer, and improve skid resistance. County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said “The prolonged spell of hot weather is causing the bitumen to soften on roads all over the country. The problem is that it can start to stick to car tyres, damaging the road by stripping the surface off, and become slippery, which is a potential safety problem.

“We’ve been using around six of our gritting fleet to apply granite dust where this is happening. This creates a barrier to stop it sticking to people’s tyres, and improve skid resistance. Now this problem has started it will carry on until the weather cools off so we’re sending the gritters out every day at the moment to those places where we know this is a problem, as well as responding to any new locations picked up by our inspectors or reported by the public.

“In some places we’re also putting out signs with advisory speed limits to encourage vehicles to slow down for safety. It’s not the first time we’ve had to do this in Lancashire, and our climate means that it doesn’t happen very often. If permanent damage is caused to any of the network, and once the weather cools down, we’ll assess these locations for any repairs which may be needed. In the meantime, I’d ask people to take particular care on the roads, observe any advisory speed limits in place, and report any problems to us which we may not already be aware of”. 

Lancashire County Council “Misled” NHS Trusts

The Lancashire Post reports how a judge has criticised Lancashire County Council for “misleading” NHS Trusts over the £104m Virgin contract. The comments come from the High Court case brought by two Lancashire NHS trusts against the county council in relation to the awarding of a contract for community healthcare services to private firm Virgin.

Once the council had made the decision, Lancashire Care NHS Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust who previously held the contract for services such as school nurses, took legal action. Last week Mr Justice Stuart-Smith  blocked the awarding of the contract to Virgin after concerns were raised about the tendering process. The ruling means the process may now have to be run all over again and it could also expose the council to legal action brought by Virgin.

The judge said there was “no consistency” in the way in which the bids put in by Virgin and the NHS trusts were discussed by the council’s marking panel. He ruled that members of the panel were not collectively shown notes of the marking process until the NHS trusts launched legal action. The judge added that “Later, when the trusts were pressing for information, the council misled them by first redacting the dates and then backdating three of the individual members’ evaluation notes. To describe this, as the council did, as merely a ‘regrettable episode of poor administration’ is, to my mind, an unacceptable understatement”.

The judge said the council’s reasoning process was so unclear, it was impossible to say whether the marking process had been infected by “manifest error”.

Poor administration in LCC? At what level? It is beyond belief that some of the highest paid officers in local government are making LCC a laughing stock. Worse, the chance of Virgin now seeking its pound of flesh from we taxpayers is too horrific to contemplate!

Fewer Councillors And More Police?

Janet Ingman has written to the Champion  to ask how we might be able to afford to let a new councillor resign and spend about £8,000 on a by-election but not put more money into policing. The short answer is the two matters are not locally related. Funding of local councils and funding of policing come from different pots. Janet Ingman surely makes a good point, as anyone could, about the short career of the Labour politician who resigned. As with the other case, the Tory in Hesketh-with-Becconsall, the public are paying for political party failures, but the bill should be sent to them, not us.

As for why do we pay so much for so many councillors, and are they the way to cut back on unnecessary spending, I simply quote again the case of Wally Westley in his Cabinet pomp, when he stated on the same day two answers. Asked in August 2010 “Why do we need 54 councillors? Surely we could get rid of about one third of them with a little judicious thought? That would lead to a smaller council, a smaller cabinet (less expenses) and a smaller administration, smaller salaries for the highly paid senior staff who would have less responsibility, smaller premises and the sale of some of the capital assets we own” he replied “The number of Borough Councillors is set by the Government and the Boundary Commission. My personal view is that there are too many and that the number could be reduced by 50%”. But when asked “As for the number of councillors, why don’t you instigate a review of WLBC with the Boundary Commission?” he replied “I would not want to waste money on a Boundary Commission Review or the resultant election. There are far more important matters and it would only be an unnecessary distraction”. Truly unbelievable until you realise the calibre of the man!

Janet Ingman mentions neighbourhood watch but doesn’t hear of them now. They do exist, with difficulty as any current NHW co-ordinator will tell her. Encouraged to organise watches, people are now disillusioned by lack of support. By chance, also in the Champion, is a headline  that “Deadline looms for bids for funding of projects to tackle reoffending”, from a “police commissioner’s £200k pot”. It beggars belief that Mr Grunshaw received a massive rise from us for his police budget, only for us now to discover HE wants to spend OUR money doing what the Home Secretary should pay for, reducing reoffending. It’s bad enough that while police bills go up police officer numbers reduce. We can only wonder what salary is paid to the Independent chair of the Reoffending Boards who just happens to be a recent Chief Constable in Cumbria?

It’s In The Bag For Care Home Residents

NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is introducing an innovative new ‘red bag’  pilot scheme to help support care home residents when admitted to hospital. The bags, which contain key paperwork, medication and personal items like glasses, slippers and dentures, are handed to ambulance crews by carers and travel with patients to hospital where they are then handed to the doctor.

This scheme is just one NHS initiative taking place to make care more proactive in care homes; through the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Vanguard, total bed days have dropped by 4.5 percent as opposed to an increase in areas without the scheme of 1.4 per cent. As well as giving reassurance to patients, the red bags provide hospital staff with quick, up-to-date information and medication requirements for the patient, avoiding unnecessary phone calls.

John Caine, a local GP in West Lancashire and chair at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said “This is an example of where a joined-up approach is helping to improve patient care and speed up a stay in hospital for all the right reasons. Sometimes it’s the personal touch that makes a big difference to patients, especially if they’re elderly, and the red bag helps people feel reassured and more at home. Doing more of the obvious is key to improving all our experiences of care.”

In West Lancashire, the pilot will initially launch at the start of July 2018 at the Cleveland House Care Home in Banks, with an aim to roll out fully across the region in September 2018. Mike Maguire, chief officer at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said “Nationally, there are half a million more people aged over 75 than there were in 2010 – and there will be two million more in ten years’ time. They are also spending more years in ill-health than ever before. This scheme is a great example of how the NHS is integrating care and working in partnership with social care, to ensure that our elderly patients will only have to tell their story once”.