Telling the truth about SME life today

Charlie Mullins: “How dare MPs fly first class while the economy is in tatters?”

Thanks to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, we know that Lord Mandelson, the unelected secretary of state for business and president of the Board of Trade, and his cronies travelled to Switzerland in first class.

I am sure that the irony of a load of ministers from virtually bankrupt countries using the most expensive airplane seats to fly into one location to discuss the world’s economic plight is not lost on anyone (apart from the politicians, of course!)

It certainly wasn’t lost on Boris, a man I do have respect for and have met several times to discuss business issues. He has employed, in his words, “a spartan regime” at City Hall in London. Boris and his team sat in the economy seats. His seating arrangements were, he said, “the approach the recession-battered public wanted to see”.

He’s not wrong! Do these politicians just not get it? If they can dip into the public purse to enjoy wider seats and complimentary drinks, what does it say about their management of the rest of the economy?

Personally, I have been taking Boris’ lead for some time when it comes to air travel. I use budget airlines such as Monarch and EasyJet as much as possible. If you are lucky enough to be able to travel aboard in these tough times, how you get there isn’t always the most important part.

Tax dodgersSurprise, suprise, top earners have found a way to dodge the 50p tax rate that comes into force in April. According to the City minister Lord Myners, high earners will cost the economy hundreds of millions of pounds through tax dodges.  

It was inevitable that this was going to happen: people don’t want half of their hard-earned cash frittered away by government. High earners are apparently pursuing four main ways to avoid tax; storing up their pay in their firm to be drawn at a later date; bumping up this year’s pay; choosing to pay it to charity rather than the tax man; or, my favourite option, leave the country.

When will the government ever learn that punishing successful people will never be beneficial?

Helping HaitiWe have all been moved by the recent disaster in Haiti. At Pimlico Plumbers we have been doing our bit – but not in the most traditional way. I donated one of our vans to the South London branch of the Red Cross after one of its own vans was ambushed and stolen last week. How despicable can you get”   Anyway, we responded quickly when I found out that they were struggling to get all their donations to the distribution centre.  

My 80-year-old depot manager Eric and his assistant Derek took to the wheel of a Pimlico Plumbers van to join the Red Cross convoy across London to deliver the donations. It was a real success and I have agreed to keep a van on standby for any other loads that may need to be moved by the Red Cross to help the stricken Island Nation.

Charlie Mullins launched Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 with just a bag of tools and a very old van bought at auction. It now has over 133 professional plumbers and a support team of around 35 staff, with a turnover of more than £15m.

Related articles:Charlie Mullins: "Worthless public-sector jobs are draining our taxes"Making time for charity



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