Well here we are in the new financial year with all the tax changes for us as personal taxpayers and businesses. Many of us will have forgotten about the extra National Insurance that was planned during the last administration but will surely notice it by the time we get paid at the end of the month. This plus the VAT increase to 20% and the looming cuts in tax credits and changes in excise duties on alcohol have left us all feeling poorer. Clients are looking for greater value and better deals whilst suppliers strive to meet those challenges in a marketplace with lots of capacity and less business as the public sector continues to leave a hole in revenues for many businesses and so far that hole not having been sufficiently replaced by the private sector, if it ever will be.
It’s not all doom and gloom though as the nation gets Royal Wedding Fever and gears up to celebrate the marriage of Prince William on 29th when most if us will also benefit from an extra day off. Located in the heart of Westminster as we are, you can feel the build up to this great event happening all around. The other night as I stood outside the Westminster Arms in Storey’s Gate enjoying the first warm sunny evening of 2011 and wondering by how much a pint had gone up after the budget in what must be already one of London’s most expensive pubs, I noticed that the TV camera platforms had already erected opposite Westminster Abbey as they have in front of Buckingham Palace and other preparation are taking place apace as we get nearer to the big day. Whether you’re a monarchist or not, you’ve got to say thanks for extra days off! We have our own wedding here at One Great George Street the very next day. This year has proven to be a record for our wedding business, probably encouraged by the royal event.
While we are on the Royal Family, Prince Philip was here for dinner two weeks back. I was amazed at how sprightly and upright he is at almost 90 years old. His Royal Highness is an Honorary Member of the Smeatonian Society which was founded in 1771 by John Smeaton and some of his professional acquaintances and is the oldest engineering society in the world. HRH is also the longest serving Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, our parent organisation and as such has been a regular visitor to our premises for over half a century.
Enjoy the long holiday weekend!