Was Covid-19 the worst thing ever to happen in to hospitality in the history of the world ever? Judging by the screams eminating from certain quarters during the pandemic, one might be forgiven for thinking so – and Ears To The House doesn’t deny it’s been pretty horrific for a lot of businesses. But now it appears something even worse has come along.
And we know it’s even worse because Sacha John Edward Lord, the overlord of Manchester nightlife and the same city’s Night Time Economy Adviser, says so. This week, he’s decided to pursue his occasional favourite hobby – namely getting his face into as many news pages as possible. He’s succeeded, too – his doom-laden warning that the current cost of living crisis is having more of an effect on hospitality than Covid-19 is all over BBC News.
Things are clearly difficult out there for a lot of people. We, too, have noticed the cost of everything seems to be going up at the moment. But is Sacha Lord really the best person to be making this point? After all, he is unlikely to be personally doing much to help people with the cost of living crisis if the prices of drinks in his venues are anything to go by.
Let’s also cast our minds back to Lord’s repeated legal challenges to Covid regulations. Yes, he might well have paid for these challenges out of his own pocket – and one side of us does admire people who are prepared to fork out for what they believe in. But let’s also not deny the truth here – Lord wanted restrictions relaxed as soon as possible so that he could open his clubs again and make a lot of money.
We also have to question his own proposal, along with the Night Time Industries Association that he chairs, to the problem. They want to see VAT on energy bills for business reduced from 20% to 5% for an unspecified period of time. Now, we’re not economists at Ears To The House – but how is charging 15% less in VAT on a bill which has risen by at least 50% going to help anyone?
And how does this proposal fit in with Lord’s alleged left-wing views on the world? He is campaigning for a VAT reduction on business – which his own businesses would benefit from – yet fails to see the potential resentment it could bring about for private citizens who are left paying the full rate of VAT on their own rocketing electric bills.
It seems to us that the sensible thing to do is bring down those energy bills and massively cut the amount of tax paid at the pumps. But that wouldn’t bring about as many headlines for Lord, of course…