James Coney  

Vertical integration has its drawbacks

James Coney

James Coney

But given the ever-growing challenges of running a business on your own, and the almost insurmountable cost pressure of professional indemnity cover, it is inevitable that more consolidation and the attractions of becoming part a vertically integrated company grow by the day.

There were two important lessons I took from the pub programme.

The first was that Mr Kerridge himself ran his Michelin-starred business through a tied pub company – and he became so successful that he seemed to be able to operate on his own terms.

And secondly, that quality wins the day. The landlords of the West Country pub hiked their beer prices, but customers kept coming back because they loved the pub, the service and the landlords.

I will raise a glass to that.

Tax talks

It must be almost Budget time because we are talking about scrapping higher rate pensions tax relief again.

It didn’t happen at the spending review last week and it is not going to happen in the future either. Not because it is unfair, and not because the Tories will lose voters, but because the current system is impossible to untangle.

Pension tax relief is an employers’ tax break – almost two-thirds of the relief comes from companies – and largely affects defined benefit schemes.

Given that pensions tax relief is prevalent in the public sector, scrapping higher relief would leave an almighty black hole that taxpayers would be expected to fund.

And that really would be a vote-loser.

Pension freedoms

Do you remember when it was a problem that 60 per cent of people took a retirement income with their existing provider? That was why we had the pension freedoms.

Today, 59 per cent of people taking a drawdown product take one with their existing provider and 57 per cent of those with an annuity. What?

So much for the principles of shopping around. 

Time to get back to the drawing board.

James Coney is money editor of The Times and The Sunday Times