What’s Next for vending? Honestly, who knows? Who can even take an educated guess?
I’m not Tory bashing – who knows if the opposition could make a better fist of steering a safe course through the pandemic storm? – but there are times when HMG’s left hand doesn’t seem to know what its right hand is doing.
‘Eat out to help out’ was the cry. Weeks later and we have a 10pm curfew to adhere to. ‘Back to Work’ was the mantra; now, once more, it’s ‘work from home if you can’. We’re all set for a winter of discontent, six months of misery. ‘Confusion, contradiction and mixed messages’, admits the (usually true blue) Daily Mail.
What’s Next? Well, Dishy Rishy has cancelled plans for a full-scale November budget, in favour of a ‘Winter Economy Plan’ that’s designed to ‘help firms cope with restrictions’. That tells us that he can’t, like the rest of us, see far enough ahead to make a cohesive fiscal plan. Meanwhile, the furlough scheme has only weeks left to run. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict the waves of redundancies that will be precipitated in its wake
Look as closely as you like: there’s no good news on the horizon. It seems nailed-on that the only sure thing we can count on when the emergency eases is a hefty rise in taxes.
It’s no wonder vending operators are angry; the sorry saga of the UK’s response to COVID-19 reeks of mismanagement.
By general scientific consent, COVID is usually harmless for those healthy young people that constitute the vast majority of vending customers working in offices and factories across the UK. Seventy percent of the UK’s vending machines are in B&I locations. Middle aged folk that are active and fit can normally expect the symptoms of the disease to be manageably mild.
Those at real risk of death by COVID are the over 65s. Around 18% of the UK population falls into that category, ergo the other 82% are at extremely low risk of death by COVID. What’s more, for the under 30s, the risk is, well… hardly a risk at all. Hand washing, face masks, anti-bacterial hand gel; social distancing: that ought to do it. The vast majority of UK citizens, who have nothing to fear from COVID are being ordered to make life-changing sacrifices for the minority, many of whom have long-since departed the workplace.
What’s Next? 25% of 24,500 people vending jobs are at risk.
You will have your own views as to whether or not the UK’s strategy is acceptable. I don’t think it is: the alternative – asking those at high risk to isolate themselves from the danger while the rest of us get on with it – seems to me to be a more equitable and – dare I say – effective solution.
While the economic fabric of the UK society crumbles, with industrial giants, travel companies, high-street household names and the entire hospitality industry in mortal peril (or already dead and buried), it’s unlikely that the plight of vending operators will generate much in terms of sympathetic public opinion, air-time or column inches.
What’s Next? Current estimates, based on AVA member interviews, suggest that up to 25% of the 24,500 people directly employed within vending companies are at risk.
That’s over 6,000 people; 6,000 families. Technically speaking, ‘bloody hell’. It’s a funny old world in which the consequences of the cure are worse, for most of us, than those of catching the disease…
Sunak warned winter economy plan not enough to stop wave of job losses. (The Guardian, HERE)
Winter economy plan: UK braced for job losses as Rishi Sunak replaces furlough with less generous scheme (The Independent, HERE)
Coronavirus: Not everyone will go back to the job they used to have, Sunak admits (Sky News, HERE)
Vending’s response to COVID-19 (Planet Vending, HERE)