A snapshot of the attitude of big business was delivered to me last week.
Two services were to call at my home — BSS, a small company from west Belfast, to check my security alarm, and Phoenix Energy Services to service my gas boiler.
BSS was first to arrive and eventually presented me with a bill for £69, £1.50 less than last year — because of the drop in VAT. Phoenix had sent me a letter a month ago offering to check the boiler for £55 including VAT, and an appointment was made on that basis. But when I adjusted the charge to £53.88 to reflect the drop in VAT to 15%, the cheque was accepted under protest.
Phoenix Energy Services told me that the VAT change was not going to be passed on. I was told “it would cost too much to alter all their promotional literature ...”, and they wouldn’t be reviewing prices for five months. A call to the VAT office in Belfast confirmed that the Revenue expected a lot of companies to keep their prices the same, in spite of the VAT cut.
A spokesman said: “They can get away with it as long as they quote an overall price without separating the VAT.”
You think the Chancellor gave you a VAT reduction? As the Nationwide ad says: “It doesn’t work like that.”