Nej's Natterings

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks, Darling

Hurrah! The VAT-rate has been cut by 2.5%! The economy is saved!

What complete rubbish. What difference will this make to anyone, anywhere? My initial reaction was "oh good, petrol and cigarettes will be cheaper". But no, because they rake in such huge amounts from these, they are putting up duty to offset the decrease in VAT. Which will stay in place when VAT reverts to 17.5% in 13 months time, naturally.

Seriously. This will make no difference at all. If I was thinking of buying something for £100, but wasn't sure because it was a bit expensive, I'm not not going to decide to buy it because it's £2.08 cheaper. I would have paid £100 for it.

Think your food bill will drop? It won't. Most food is zero-rated for VAT anyway. It's only the likes of chocolates and crisps that are affected. And, strangely, "Ornamental Vegetables", which are apparantly vegetables that are grown for their appearance rather than consumption. No, I don't get that either. Oh, and live horses, but I don't tend to buy many of those these days.

The really stupid thing is this: Most companies will just put up their prices by the difference. The consumer will be no better off, but the corporations will be. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - more money in companies means safer and more plentiful jobs. But putting money into the pockets of the people it isn't.

Some things are just not going to change. For example a £10 mobile top-up is presumably made up of £8.51 cost and 17.5% VAT to make £10. It's not going to become a £9.79 topup, is it? No, the price will increase by the difference.

More irritating is the short timescale. It changes on Monday. Which means when you have inherited two rubbish systems to look after, both of which appear to have hard-coded VAT rates of 17.5% in them, and both of which rely on the prices being set to £10 for the rest of the things to work, and when you are far too busy to even look at these systems, and when one of these systems is in a programming language that you don't know, and when nobody in the business will make a decision on whether to increase the prices we charge to absorb the cost and make it easier, or to investigate and re-work the system, it means you are screwed.

Thanks, Darling.