Is the end of the free to use ATM’s in sight?

Is the end of the free to use ATM’s in sight?

The latest analysis by the consumer champion shows a spike in the number of people forced to pay withdraw their own money from cash machines with experts warning that half of Britain’s ATM’s could close within two years.

According to Which? the findings highlight the need for urgent clarity and direction from the government on the role of cash in the future including specific details about how it will ensure that cash continues to be a viable payment method for those that need it.

Since 2018, two Birmingham constituencies have seen 44 and 41 percent reductions in free to use ATMs, but both had a 50 percent increase in pay to use machines.

Nottingham East has seen 43 percent of free cash machines closed but an 11 percent increase in pay to use machines. All three locations are within the top 10 percent for deprivation in England.

The results are particularly concerning as previous research has shown that those in more deprived areas are more likely to use cash. ATM’s are the most commonly used means of withdrawing cash, with UK Finance figures showing that 91 percent of cash withdrawals took place through ATM’s in 2019.

So what does the future hold for our ATM’s? As we have mentioned a few times on this blog, cash is disappearing fast. We are heading to a cashless society, which has many positives! but there are many people who rely on cash and this is usually the old and poorer sections of our community’s. It is sad to see so many banks removing there free to use cash points and seeing them replaced by private pay to use cash points hitting the most needy.

Fruit machines in pubs are not legally allowed to accept card payments to play them, even though the technology is there and ready to go.  Our industry is pushing hard for this as we are one of the few industry’s that card payments are not accepted. Watch this space for when this regulation changes and another step towards our cashless society happens!

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BUDGET UPDATE ON THE 3RD MARCH 2021

BUDGET UPDATE ON THE 3RD MARCH 2021

After a difficult 12 months, please see below the summary of the announcements made in todays budget.

We are pleased to see the extension of the CJRS and the rates relief and grants for retail leisure and hospitality albeit that they will not be as generous as previously.

We are however deeply frustrated that the Chancellor did not take the opportunity to include seaside amusement arcades in his 5% VAT relief.  He was also totally silent on support for supply chains.  That is a huge oversight and jeopardises the recovery.  For companies so badly affected the 25% Corporation Tax rate from April 2023 for companies with profits over £250k is a kick in the teeth.  New loans are just adding more debt to already distressed companies.   We have written to the Chancellor to make these points very forcibly.

BUDGET SUMMAY

Economic forecast:

  • OBR expects economy to grow by 4% this year – forecasting a “swifter and more sustained recovery” than they were expecting in November.
  • Now expected that the economy will recover to its pre-Covid level by the middle of next year – six months earlier than previously expected.
  • There will be growth of 7.3% in 2022, then 1.7%, 1.6% and 1.7% in the following years.
  • In five years’ time, the OBR still expects the economy to be 3% smaller than it would have been.
  • This year the UK has borrowed £355bn. 17% of national income. Next year borrowing will be 10.3% of GDP. Because of the measures taken today, it will fall to 4.5% of GDP in 2023, then 3.5%, then 2.9%, then 2.8%.

Key announcements:

  • The 100% Business Rates Holiday will continue until the end of June. For the remaining nine months of the financial year, business rates will still be discounted by two thirds, up to a value of £2m for closed businesses.
  • The 5% reduced rate of VAT will be extended for six months to 30th September. It will then have an interim rate of 12.5% for another six months.
  • Gaming Duties will rise in line with RPI.
  • A new Recovery Loans Scheme will come into force in April, where businesses of any size can apply for loans from £25,000 – £10,000,000, through to the end of this year. Government will guarantee up to 80% of lending by providers.
  • Furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September. From July onwards, the Government will introduce an employer contribution towards the cost of unworked hours – 10% in July, 20% in August and September.
  • A new Restart Grant Scheme: £5bn fund to help High Street shops and hospitality firms recover with non-essential retail eligible for grants up to £6,000 and hospitality and leisure businesses more impacted eligible for grants up to £18,000.
  • In 2023 the rate of corporation tax, paid on company profits, will increase to 25%. a new Small Profits Rate at 19% will be introduced for businesses with profits of £50,000 or less. Above £50,000, the Corporation Tax will be tapered so only those with profit of over £250,000 pa will pay the full 25%.
  • Income Tax, VAT and National Insurance triple lock will remain in place – but Income Tax thresholds will be frozen until 2026 following this years planned uplift.
  • Extended loss carry back for businesses – up to £2,000,000 can be carried back for up to three years (specifics depend on company status).
  • Super Deduction: for the next two years when companies invest in new equipment they can offset all of the cost against tax, plus an additional 30%.
  • National Living Wage rise will continue as planned in April.
  • Incentives payment for apprentices has been doubled to £3,000 per apprentice.

There are a few things with in this budget to help pubs and social clubs, notably the Restart Grant Scheme. It needs to be easily and quickly accessible to help get premises equipped with what’s needed to not only open up but help with the extra costs of outdoor drinking. If Comrie can help you in any way with your fruit machine hire or jukebox and pool table requirements please get in touch.

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FOBT stake change “not as bad as expected”

FOBT stake change “not as bad as expected”.

UK bookmaker Betfred has said the FOBT stake change was “not as bad as expected” with a bounce back into profit in its most recent fiscal year after two straight years of negative results.

In its latest financial reports, total gambling turnover hit £10.1bn, down from £13.2bn in 2018, and revenue fell 12 percent to £621m, however operating profit came in at nearly £74.8m a dramatic turn around.

Or put another way – The Bookmakers as a whole were feeding the government, media and the public with false information to keep their unlevel playing field over pubs, amusement arcades, bingo halls and other venues. But it has not ended up with up to fifty percent of their shops closing like some of them were falsely predicting.

Their unfair advantage carried on for many years solely because of the monies they have been earning, giving them vastly more power in swaying the government to let them continue with these unfair and addictive type gaming machines. We are glad that after years of pressure from different lobbing groups the government changed the stakes for FOBT machines.

Pubs and clubs can have a digital roulette or poker machine it is in a different format that is £1 per play in pubs and a maximum £2 per play in clubs. This machine is a far softer gaming machine that offers customers entertainment rather than an FOBT machine which were how the media described them – ‘The crack cocaine of gambling’

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MP issued with lifetime pub ban as licensees turn bitter

MP issued with lifetime pub ban as licensees turn bitter

Publicans in Warrington have vented their anger on their Curfew supporting member of Parliament by issuing him with a lifetime ban. Andy Carter, the MP representing Warrington South, was issued the ban following a unanimous vote by the Cheshire town’s Pubwatch members.

The decision means that Carter, the Conservative MP who was only elected in 2019, has been banned from entering the town’s pubs, bars, and clubs that are members of the organisation which was formed to promote best practice with aim of achieving a safer drinking environment in all licensed premises throughout the UK.

A spokesperson for the Warrington branch told local media that the 10pm Curfew “had absolutely killed us” arguing the main trading time for town centre pubs and bars was between 11pm and 1am.

He added that the curfew was not backed by any scientific or credible evidence and that Carter had displayed zero support for the hospitality sector in tis hour of need with publicans fearful for their livelihoods.

Defending his actions and those of the government, Andy Carter responded “It is simply not true to say the government hasn’t supported the hospitality industry. Pubs have received grants, access to loans and government schemes including Eat Out to Help Out and more recently back-dated support to August for those areas which were in tier two prior to lockdown”. He went on to add, “The 10pm closing is a decision taken by central Government to help reduce the spread of the deadly virus. I am disappointed to see licensees using an important scheme like Pubwatch to keep people who go to licensed premises in Warrington Town centre safe, for political aims, it’s totally against what it was set up for and brings the scheme into disrepute.”

We totally agree the government is killing pubs and clubs. they are being used as an escape goat, when the track and trace evidence clearly proves hospitality is not a big spreader of the Covid virus. Many bars and restaurants are far safer environments than your local supermarket where everyone is going about their normal day to day. Add in to this the money that has been spent on PPE and other safety measures and now they can not open, or if in tier two only with food. This is still unviable not only for wet lead venues but also licensed premises who are not predominantly food outlets.

It is very sad to see one of Great Britain’s massive employers and nations favorites get pushed to the brink of extinction. Not to mention the many industries that feed off pubs, social clubs, bars, restaurants and night clubs. Also why should these these venues get loans and go in to debt when the rest of the retail sector is now fully up and running. Pubs due to many reasons (high rates, supermarket loss leader pricing, pub company tie-ins) had been experiencing hard times before this outbreak, so this just adds to the problem. We ourselves have experienced first hand the loss of pubs and social clubs closing down permanently and having to remove our fruit machines on hire and other equipment from these venues.

 

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IS THE END OF COINS IN SIGHT???

IS THE END OF COINS IN SIGHT???

The Royal Mint has confirmed that it will not be making any new £2 coins and 2p coins until 2030 at the earliest. The announcement came after a report from the National Audit Office said that the Mint was storing surplus coins way beyond the Treasury’s target buffer.

The report explained – while the storage cost of the excess stocks is relatively small, the Mint’s next decade as it balances maintaining production capability with steady stock reduction.

The excess number of coins in circulation covers all denominations. Holdings of 1p and 2p coins are six and eight times above their buffer targets respectively with £2 coins calculated to be 26 times over target.

The surplus is being attributed to the decline in cash payments, a trend that has been accelerated by changes impacting all aspects of retailers during COVID.

Figures from the National Audit Office show a 59 percent decline in the volume of cash payments between 2008 – 2019 with experts predicting the number of cash payments falling to one in ten before the end of the decade.

During the national lockdown concerns over the spread of Coronavirus has led many retailers to stop accepting cash as a payment method with the demand for cash from banks and ATMs slumping by over 70 percent during March and April.

Although the use of cash has subsequently increased, the NAO believes it is too early to assess the loner term impact on cash access and usage. The report confirmed – the experiences of consumers during this period may offer new insights for the future into the potential impact of markedly reduced cash use.

The reduction in the use of cash and the prognosis outlined by the NAO paints  a bleak picture for the pub, bingo and AGC sectors which are prohibited from using electronic payment methods, something that must change if the industry is to be given the opportunity to survive and prosper.

So many people rely on cash to live there lives it would be a big blow for millions of people. No doubt we will become a cashless society but this needs to be done gradually over the next 10-15 years to help people. In the mean time they need all shops and businesses to accept cash. Comrie are already keeping a close eye on the new cashless fruit machines for pubs and social clubs that are being tested as I type this.

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KEEP SAFE FROM SCAMMERS

Unfortunately at Comrie we have been scammed numerus times by criminals breaking in to our machines and the premises they are located on. these criminals are now turning to easier and more profitable ways on-line. Below are so points that we hope will help you keep safe when paying for things on-line. It does look like the day is getting very close for fruit machines in pubs and social clubs to be able to accept debit cards as a way of payment so we have been looking at all our on-line security systems to get us ready for that day.

Data breaches, identity theft and online scams are now daily occurrences. A destructive flood of fraud sweeps the nation, leaving countless victims in its wake. Unfortunately, new and improved technology only gives fraudsters an edge, making it easier than ever for scam artists to steal financial and personal data from unsuspecting consumers. But, there are things consumers can so to protect themselves.

Here are 10 tips to help you steer clear of some of the most common financial scams:

  1. Never transfer money to a stranger’s bank account

At some point or another, you’ve probably received an email claiming to be a family member in an emergency situation or from a complete stranger claiming they need help, all asking you to pay monies into an unknown (usually foreign) bank account. DON’T DO IT! If you are concerned about the family member – contact them, their email has probably been hacked and they are sitting at home have a cup of tea!

Although it is one of the oldest internet scams, consumers are still falling for it. Once any monies are transferred into these accounts it is virtually impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.

DELETE THE EMAIL – and make that call if claiming to be a relative!

  1. Don’t give out financial information

Never reveal any financial information to a person or business you don’t know, whether they contact you via phone, text or email. Scammers will sometimes email or call you, claiming to be from a retailer, financial institution or government agency. They may say your account has been compromised or needs to be updates. More often than not, these crooks are trying to trick you in to giving them your credit card number, NI number or other financial information.

This common scam is known as phishing. Remember your bank or Credit Card Company will never contact you and ask for personal information. If you receive, a suspicious call or email and are concerned about your account, call the credit card company or bank directly to check.

  1. Never click on hyperlinks in emails

If you receive an email from a stranger or company asking you to click on the hyperlink or open an attachment and then enter your financial information, delete or report the email as spam immediately. Even if the email appears to be or looks like it from your bank or credit card company, it is more likely to be a scam!

  1. Use tough to crack passwords

These day, a password like “12345” or “fluffy” just isn’t going to cut it. Hackers can easily crack password that are simple number combinations for a common pet name. Create passwords that are at least eight characters long and that include some lower case and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. You should also use a different password for every website you visit.

How on earth can I remember 20 different passwords that look something like 5Rg@67&bt3? I hear you ask. That’s where a password programme like Roboform or LastPass can help. These handy programs can help you generate strong passwords and securely and quickly access them when you need them.

  1. Never give out your National Insurance number

If you receive an email or visit a website that asks for your number, DON’T SO IT! It is more likely a scam. Legitimate businesses rarely ask for this information.

  1. Install antivirus and spyware protection

Protect sensitive information stored on your computer by installing antivirus, firewall and spyware protection. Once you have installed the program, make sure you turn on the auto-update feature to make sure the software is always up to date.

  1. Don’t shop with unfamiliar online retailers

When it comes to shopping online, only do business with familiar companies. If you are interested in making a purchase from an unfamiliar retailer, make sure you do some research to ensure the business is legit and trustworthy. ie; search online for consumer feedback and complaints.

  1. Don’t download software from pop-up windows

When you are online, be wary of pop-up windows that appear and claim your computer is unsafe. If you click on the link in the op-up to start the “system scan” or some other program, malicious software known as “malware” could damage your operating system.

  1. Make sure the websites you visit are safe

Before you enter your financial information on any website, double check the website’s privacy policy rules. Also make sure the website uses encryption, which is usually symbolised by a lock to the left of the website address. When you see the lock, this means the information you are entering is safely encrypted and protected against hackers.

  1. Only donate to charities you Know

If you receive a call or email solicitation for a charity looking for donations, do your homework before you take out your credit card. Some scammers create bogus charities to steal credit card information. You can search for legitimate charities on the Charities Commission website.

I hope by reading this it will stop you becoming pray to these heartless scammers.

Remember your personal and financial details belong to you! Don’t let them into the hands of strangers.

 

 

 

 

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Meet The Team

New Team Member

Well kind of new, Lewis has been with us now for just over 18 months but so much has been going on we have not been shouting about him.

Following the acquisition of Globe Automatics and the switching of our all our machines to the new £20 note it has been a busy time for us all at Comrie.

Lewis has been thrown in at the deep end and I am pleased to say he can swim!

It was actually a long wait for Lewis to start with us as a week before his start date he was rushed into hospital to have major heart surgery. After his operation he had to recuperate with 12 months rest. We told him to stay in touch as he had the makings of a good engineer.

Lewis loves taking apart iphones and ipads and repairing them, so he has become the go to man when any of the team break their phones. This has also proved valuable as lots of the fruit machines we supply are now digital!

We also have some other great news about Lewis which he has just broke to the team – he is going to become a dad for the second time.

Congratulations to you both from all at Comrie.

 

IMG_5389

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How To Pour The Perfect Pint

We spotted this article and thought it might be of use for any pubs or clubs training new staff. We are no experts ourselves in pouring pints, although a few of us at Comrie enjoy drinking them :)  We are having mixed reports from our customers about how trade is coming out of lockdown. Our trade generally is down but we can see that week on week it is picking up. So looking at it all positively we are hoping to be back to pre- Covid levels by Christmas. As before lockdown and most popular machines in Pubs and Clubs is the Digital fruit Machines.

As we all know, the best beer to be had in a pub doesn’t come out of a bottle.. Instead, most pubs have a variety of beers on tap, usually including both popular beers produced by small corporations as well as local specialties. A well poured pint of beer tastes nicer than one that’s just been chucked in the glass, and so the technique of the barperson is paramount.

  1. Select your Glass
    It is important to ensure the beer is served in a clean glass, without finger-marks, smudges or residual water from the washing process. It’s especially important to remove grease, as this destroys the head. Recently washed glasses are also undesirable because they are likely to be too warm. If possible, choose a glass with an appropriate logo on it – every little touch helps. After all, you’ll probably get a funny look if a customer orders a Fosters and a Guinness, and gets a Fosters in a Guinness glass, and a Guinness in a Fosters This is particularly important if the order contains two or more similar looking beers, such as Stella and San Miguel.

In general it is safe to assume that customers will be happy with a straight glass, but they may ask for a mug or jug, in which case you should give them their beer in a squat heavy glass with a handle. Certain regulars at some pubs defy all expectation, and you just have to learn what strange object they want their beer in. Although it is illegal to sell draught beer in measures other than 1 pint or 1/2 a pint you should only worry out this if there’s a policeman actually in the pub.

  1. Approach the Pump
    Here’s where things get more complicated. For a stout, such as Guinness or Murphys you can just place the glass on the drip tray. With lager or bitter that’s on tap you should hold the glass at about 40 degrees to the vertical just under the tap. Real Ale, or anything else that comes out of an actual pump follows a similar principle, but due to inherent foaminess you should probably make sure the pump nozzle is well inside the glass. It’s quite a simple concept to understand: the further the beer falls before it strikes the glass, the more foam will be created. Since in most cases you want to minimise the head, you must also minimise this distance.
  2. The Pull/Pour
    1. Lager (e.g. Fosters
      For a pint with minimal head it is a simple matter of holding the glass at its angle, and opening the tap. It’s important to fully open the tap, or it will splutter, and there’ll be too much foam. As the glass begins to fill you can straighten it up to the vertical. Flip the pump back up just as the beer fills the glass. If a little head is desirable, there are two alternatives. Either you can be a bit more careless in the pouring, allowing foam to be produced, or with some taps you can flip the tap up when the beer is about half an inch from the top, and then press a button on top, which forces out beer mixed with air, creating a head.
      According to 409 some pumps do this when pushed away from the user. pjd also notes that some lagers such as Carling require far more care than others.
    2. Real Ale, or pumped Bitter (e.g. Abbot Ale
      Rather different in technique, this is the only sort of pint that is actually “pulled” from a pump. Grasp the top of the pump, and pull down strongly and smoothly, whilst minimising the distance between glass and pump nozzle. After the first pull, ensure the nozzle is clear of the beer surface before returning the pump to an upright position. If you don’t do this then you will suck up the beer you just pulled! Pull more beer using a similar technique until the pint is full. It should only take 3 or 4 pulls to fill the glass. Do not stop pumping until the glass overflows, as the inevitable head will cloud your view of the liquid level. After pulling your pint, ensure that the pump is returned to an upright position.
    3. Bitter on Tap (e.g. John Smiths
      This should be poured in a similar manner to lager, but the characteristics of the beer generally lead to head being formed more easily. Down in the south of England you should try to minimise the amount of head formed, whereas northerners generally prefer their beer to have a little head. Creating exactly the desired quantity takes some practice unfortunately.
    4. Stout (e.g Guinness
      Although Guinness.com suggests holding the glass at an angle, as with other pints, it is safe to simply leave the glass on the drip tray, and open the pump up. Since you can leave the glass on the drip tray with the pump on you can save some time by dealing with another drink. When the glass is about 2/3 full flip up the tap, and leave the pint to settle for a minute or so. During this time the liquid should lose its cloudy appearance, and become black, with a white foamy head. When this has happened you can carefully lift the glass up to the tap, and fill it to the brim. Due to the thick head you should even be able to slightly overfill the glass. Place on the bar, to settle to perfection.

A Full Pint?
Since most beer glasses hold exactly a pint of liquid when full it is important to ensure that they are full to the brim. Some people don’t consider head part of the pint, whereas some will be annoyed if they don’t get any. The most important thing is to respect your customer’s wishes (which usually involve more head further north), and to not worry about pouring slightly too much beer in the glass, as a little bit of wastage to overflow is preferable to lost customers due to short measure. If a beer is left to stand on the bar, and as the head clears it is revealed that the customer has not been given a full pint you should offer a top-up, so long as the pint hasn’t been at all consumed.

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The new challenge for the pub landlord

The new challenge for the pub landlord

As pubs increasingly try to be all things to all people, new research suggests that it is in carving out a specific niche that the pub landlord best positions for venue on high returns.

The latest research on British market trends from research firm, The Montel group, shows significant disparity between demographics of customers. Older drinkers see a more traditional pub experience, and an increasing millennial customer base are looking for more unconventional features.

Millennials are particularly likely to view pubs as all round leisure experiences and are receptive to new and more unusual forms of entertainment. The difficulty for landlords will be to cater for these open minded pub goers while also meeting the needs of the traditional patrons.

We are seeing a lot of pubs put a new spin on familiar ideas, some have harnessed a sport that has certainly never been traditionally see in  pubs – while others have become known for board games or vintage video games, blurring the line between the pub and the arcade.

One commonality standing out in Mintels latest survey is the paramount importance of good quality food.

The company claims that as many as 87% of respondents, young and old, insist that high quality food is now important to them on their pub visits. Further data shows that the key area emerging in the food and beverage cuisine is Vegan.

Whilst TV football has been a mainstay of the pub for decades, choosing a different sport and sticking with it as well as throwing into the mix technological upgrades like projectors and table based ipads, can help create a unique interpretation of brand for any given location.

Some pubs have also tapped into mixed martial arts, American football or wrestling. All nighters showing sports are increasingly popular, and events like Super Bowl can help in drawing in customers who might not usually watch sport in a pub.

To capture the minds and wallets of younger patrons, innovation isn’t just desirable for publicans – it is now a necessity.

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Long Live the Local Pub!

Long Live the Local Pub!

This is even more important now than in any other time, with what our local Pubs and Social clubs will be facing coming back from Covid19. Pubs and Clubs were the first to be hit and looking like the last ones to be allowed to re-open. At this stage we do not know the impact on our national treasures but I guess it is going to be a big hit without help from the government.

Local pubs keep communities thriving, pubs are under a range of tax pressures. 3 pubs a day close their doors for good!

Further information about the beer tax is below, however in the meantime, please sign the petition to Cut Beer Tax. You can do this here;

https://www.longlivethelocal.pub/

On October 29th 2018, then Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced a freeze on beer duty freeze in response to a 116,000 strong petition asking for a cut in Beer Duty. That freeze ends in February 2020 and current plans mean a Retail Price Index (RPI) linked increase is planned. The General Election means the Autumn Budget has been postponed to early 2020 so there’s still time to make a difference.

So why cut beer tax? The simple answer; in the UK, Beer is overtaxed.

The UK has one of the highest Beer Duty (tax) rates in Europe and is three times the EU average. The government collects £3.5 billion every year in Beer Duty, as well as almost £10 billion in other taxes on pubs and brewers. Today one in every three pounds spent in pubs goes to the taxman

Along with Business rates and VAT, Beer Duty is putting pubs under enormous pressure; every day pubs are closing their doors for good. And it’s getting worse.

The government increased Beer Duty in 2017 and froze it in 2018, with year on year RPI linked increases planned it’s likely that Beer Duty will increase by at least 3% every year for the foreseeable future.

The last time Beer Duty increased year on year was between 2008 and 2013 when the government put a Beer Duty escalator in place. The impact on the beer and pub sector was catastrophic, within 5 years there was a 24% decline in beer sales, 5,000 pubs closed and 58,000 people lost their jobs.

So now we need to fight.

Pubs have been at the heart of our culture for generations and remain one of our most valuable assets. The pub and brewing industries combined create jobs, encourage tourism, and most importantly provide a vital place for communities to gather.

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