A Driving Instructor's Blog

Brexit

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USA Election graphicAt last, Joe Biden has made it to the White House. It’s still disturbing that it was so close, but it’s the result America – and the civilised world – needed.

The Americans are lucky. They were able to rectify the crass mistake which occurred in their country in 2016.

Here in the UK, the one we made just before Trump was elected remains.

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Although it might have a say in how long you remain one!

My article, Should I Become A Driving Instructor is quite popular – 25,000 views since I published it. It is a very long article, and some people probably don’t have the attention span to read it all, but in it I explain how an ADI’s finances work.

It’s quite simple, actually. You charge money for lessons, and you spend money to get a car, run it, keep it on the road, and keep your business afloat. What’s left over is your wage before tax and National Insurance. Anyone higher than a squirrel on the evolutionary scale will use yearly figures for comparisons, and not short-term spikes in their earnings as a guide to future profits. I mean, over a typical financial year my monthly hours worked might look something like this.Hours worked per month (typical)

It is equivalent to an average over 52 weeks (we call that ‘a year’) of about 30 hours of lesson per week. I have done busier years than this, and I have done quieter ones. And I have had more erratic ones  But this is typical – an ‘average’, if you like.

My current lesson rate is £29 per hour. So my takings for the year – my turnover, which is how much money I take from pupils – would be £45,240. But not all that money is my wage.

Right now, doing a week like that would cost me about £80-£100 or so in fuel costs (which varies depending on the cost of fuel at any given time). Over a full year, I’d have to spend about £5,000 on fuel just to be able to give these lessons.

Then there is how much it costs me to have a car in the first place. Let’s consider this in my world – and not the one populated with unicorns prancing across candy cane fields under a sky full of rainbows. The absolute minimum cost to anyone is going to be at least £30 per week to keep a car on the driveway – and that’s for an older car which never goes wrong, which in all honesty is in unicorn territory. Over a year, that would cost you over £1,500. A newer car, or one which is leased or on PCP, or from a franchise, would cost at least £80 a week (over £4,000 a year), and up to £200 a week (over £10,000 a year).

So if you subtract the fuel cost and the yearly cost for keeping even a perfect banger which never goes wrong  on the road, your theoretical wage would be £38,700. Realistically you will have a proper car – one that still reflects sunlight and has at least something inside it which is electrically powered – and your theoretical wage would be more like £30,200-£36,200.

There are other overheads you need to subtract from that, but let’s stick with this theoretical set for the purposes of this discussion.

Now, just for a moment, let’s take a totally separate path. IF I charged £50 an hour, my theoretical wage would leap to around £67,000. IF I charged £100 per hour, it would be as much as £145,000. But reality has a big say in all this.

In 2016, a survey showed the average lesson price in the UK was £24 per hour (mine was £25), with a higher range of £28, and a lower one of £23. In 2020 – and without knowing what effect COVID-19 has had yet – these figures are typically about £5 higher. I stress, these are averages, and at any time there are always some people who are charging either well below or well above the average. But when I say ‘well above’ or ‘below’, were talking a few pounds – not tens of pounds. Anyone charging double that is not doing normal lessons with normal people.

I recently saw someone claim that it was possible to ‘earn’ £74,000, and they even cited an example of someone who ‘had done it’, and that they did so working 36 hours a week over 48 weeks. Straightaway there is a problem, because 48 weeks isn’t a full year, and 36 hours per week over 48 weeks actually equates to a weekly average of 33 hours per week. That would means someone ‘earning’ £74,000 would be charging the equivalent of £43 per hour which is almost double the normal lesson rate. Alternatively – and without knowing the full details – another way of looking at it is that £74,000 over 48 weeks scaled to a full year equates to £40 an hour at 36 hours per week. This is what happens when the clueless start throwing random and incomplete figures around.

The second problem is that they are not ‘earning’ that at all. That is their turnover, which the person who made the claim admitted to later, though not initially when they were in full-on bragging mode. Turnover is absolutely meaningless unless you have someone’s detailed accounts. The worrying thing is that supposedly professional people are bandying these figures around for purposes best known to themselves, but they are totally ignorant to what it is they are actually pushing.

Someone charging anywhere near £43 an hour is not going to be driving a banger with faded paint. They will not be giving normal lessons to normal people – there will be some unique selling point (USP) they are involved with, or they will only be covering a special area with very rich clients. And if they have a cat in hell’s chance of sustaining that model from year to year even in those circumstances, they will be highly experienced to the extent they can get away with it. If they are inexperienced (or bad) instructors, even posh and rich people will tend to realise any shortcomings sooner or later.

Taking overheads into account, the person they mentioned would have been ‘earning’ at least £10,000 less than that £74,000 – even without knowing the full story. If they were using a high-spec or specialised vehicle – which is likely if the hourly rate really was £43 – it could have been £20,000 less, or even more. So it is misleading, and unprofessional to push a high figure like this as a potential salary. It is no better than me quoting a friend of mine who charges £60 an hour – he’s a plumber.

The bottom line is that most ADIs – the vast, vast, vast majority – cannot possibly charge £43 and hour. That majority is so vast that individuals who can get away with it for whatever reason are irrelevant. Furthermore, the vast majority of ADIs struggle to maintain even 20-30 hours, and that’s especially true right now. You can see my real world example, which dips between about 80 hours and 160 hours per month over a year (20-36 hours a week) even when there’s no pandemic to deal with. Back in the last recession, you could easily halve those figures for many people, and at the opposite end I once did a year where I was averaging 40 hours a week – which nearly killed me. I would never quote that year as in any way ‘typical’ – because it wasn’t, it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be. It happened by accident, and I deliberately pulled back as a result of it, hence ‘30 hours’.

You see, that’s another complication which the person boasting these figures missed. In terms of workload, an average of 36 hours over 48 weeks is precisely that – for 48 weeks, the instructor would be delivering that number of lessons. And that is hard to do, especially if it is week in, week out. If they worked 7 days a week, they’d be doing 5 hours every day (the person who made the claim said they were ‘doing 2 hour lessons’, which doesn’t quite fit). A 6-day week would be 6 hours a day – which does fit. And no cancellations, urgent appointments, or family issues? It’s unicorn territory even with that. But whatever, financially it has to be gauged over 52 weeks to make any sense in salary terms.

And I stress again the phrase ‘theoretical earnings’. In reality, an ADI has other overheads he or she will have to subtract from their turnover before they can call it their wage. These will vary for each individual – with the likelihood that someone charging £43 per hour and getting away with it will have a lot more to pay out than everyone else.

If you’re thinking of coming into this business, do not listen to poseurs who quote these outlandish figures. If there is any confusion between ‘turnover’ and pre-tax profit when they comment, walk away and blacklist them. They do not have a clue – no matter what title they give themselves.

A decent instructor teaching normal pupils should be looking to earn a proper wage somewhere around £25,000-£30,000 in 2020 (COVID-19 and Brexit effects notwithstanding) – if they’re doing an average of 30 hours and if they’re charging around £30 an hour. You can worry about USPs, rich clients, and doubling your fees later.

Oh. And ‘turnover’ is not your ‘wages’ or ‘earnings’.

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brexit_mentalityImmediately after the referendum, Brexiters showed their true colours by putting signs up telling foreigners to go home.

Nearly four years down the line, the unimaginable has happened, and that half of the electorate with the combined intelligence of a cowpat has collectively orgasmed overnight, as Johnson delivered what he hopes will keep him in power. This story shows clearly what drove us into this in the first place.

It was placed on doors across all 15 floors of a Norwich tower block.

Make no mistake, the sentiment which drove the twat(s) who did this festers in the minds of a huge number of Brexit supporters out there. They will deny it, of course. They will take issue with it. But they have this cancer running through their veins, no matter what ‘reasons’ they now give for voting to leave the EU.

This is what did it. This is what got that tiny, tiny majority that has effectively destroyed this country. And this is what we have condemned ourselves to.

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EU flag with fallen starA date and time which will live in infamy.

The idiots still can’t see what they’ve done. The warnings of the last four years have not been heeded, and nearly half a million have lost their jobs in vain.

Brexit is going to destroy this country.

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The polling stations open in a few hours.

This is your last chance to use common sense, vote tactically, and keep Boris Johnson and the Tories out of a majority.

You’ll keep seeing morons claiming that a Labour government would bankrupt the country. It wouldn’t. The stark reality, though, is that any government which carries Brexit through will bankrupt the country – sooner or later. Not because of who they are, but simply because of Brexit. Unfortunately, that includes Labour these days.

Johnson is going to have to pay for what he is promising, and since he has already promised the imaginary £350 million a week we allegedly pay to the EU to everyone from hospitals to North Sea fisherman ten times over, the money will have to come from taxes. And since he has already pledged to cut taxes for the super-rich, that means the rest of us – including the idiots who are going to vote for him – will be sucked dry.

Mark my words, here. If Brexit finally happens, it is going to cost us big time. For many, it will cost them for the rest of their lives – even if some of them die happy, knowing that if they had still wanted (or been able) to travel, they’d have been able to use a blue passport.

Your country needs you. Vote tactically.

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With only days to go before the General Election, this is your last chance to make a difference.

If the UK goes through with Brexit in any form, we are all going to be screwed. The only people who will be happy will be the crusty old weasels who’ll be clutching blue passports they’ll never use, tears in their eyes, and campaigning that scrod and tripe should only be sold in lbs and ozs.

None of that will do those of us who expect to be around for more than another decade any favours. But that’s all Brexit has going for it. There is nothing else in the bag – a bag that you were told was much bigger than it was to start with.

The number of jobs lost for reasons that are directly attributable to Brexit stood at over 420,000 in late September, The imminent update will likely see it go above half a million. This figure is responsible for £3.6 billion less income and National Insurance receipts, and over £12 billion lost wages. And it will only get worse, because the Brexiters’ only answer is “we’ll be all right because we’re British”.

We won’t be “all right”. We’re not all right now, and we haven’t even left yet. And we haven’t been all right since 24 June 2016,

If we leave the EU, that lost revenue will have to come from somewhere, and that means tax increases. Since Johnson has already promised to rebuild every hospital, and financially support every group whose votes he seeks, and cut taxes for the super-rich, you don’t need to be a genius to work out who is going to end up paying for it. You.

It beggars belief that someone who blusters through every interview with inane comments like “my deal is a super deal and you should all get behind it” and “let’s get Brexit done” – that last one often in answer to completely unrelated questions – might actually be voted into power properly.

Corbyn is no worse, but he’s not much better, either. I still don’t quite understand where the Labour party officially stands on Brexit, even after more than three years. And I’m a lifelong Labour voter and one-time activist. But not right now, while they’re still dithering internally over whether we should Leave or Remain.

For me, my vote is going to the one main party that has openly stated it will stop Brexit. The Lib Dems. I freely admit that I am voting solely on Brexit. I know from experience that no party’s numbers ever add up when the opposition picks them apart during campaigning, and I also know that very few parties deliver everything they promised in their manifestos if they get in. So as far as main policies go, with the main parties there’s not much to worry about. Corbyn won’t bankrupt the country, for example – though Brexit might, and that could bounce back in the future if Labour were to get in.

I’m sure others will vote for Labour for reasons of their own, just as others will vote Tory.

But I hope and pray that the opposition parties – even if it isn’t Lib Dems outright – get enough votes to stop the Conservatives getting back in.

Our futures depend on it.

So think carefully how you vote on Thursday if you’re not one of the nutcases who still thinks Brexit is a good idea, even with all the evidence of the last three and a half years. Vote tactically.

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Well, the Clown Prince has finally had something go his way. We’re set for a General Election in December.

I am a lifelong Labour voter (and one time active Labour Party member), but I cannot vote for them while Corbyn is leader. His stance on Brexit – and what I know he feels about EU membership, in spite of the grudging position the Labour Party has adopted – means there’s even less chance of me voting Labour right now.

Quite honestly, under normal circumstances it doesn’t really matter who gets into power after a GE in the sense that the world keeps turning. It’s only after a few years that policies start coming through that begin to upset people, and that starts a chain reaction which leads to a change of power at the next GE. The only PM who has ever done any real good for this country in terms of the economy was Tony Blair. After him, even Gordon Brown wasn’t that bad, although most elderly and unenlightened members of the electorate will forever blame the 2009 global recession on him, as he was unfortunate enough to have it happen on his watch.

Right now, though, the only thing that interests me is Brexit, and I don’t care who is in power if their pledge is to stop it.

Brexit is not a political issue. However, it most definitely is a political tool. Johnson can count on every moron who wants to leave the EU voting for him just because he is promising to leave no matter what. However, remain voters are fragmented across several political parties. Recent opinion polls suggest that the remain/leave sentiment is still split 50:50, with the possibility from some polls that the remain side is further ahead than it has ever been since the referendum (though still close to 50:50). Even if the remain side had 60% of the vote in terms of EU membership, in a separate political vote to elect a government this would be split among two main parties Labour and Lib Dems) and several smaller ones.

Right now, Remainers are f***ed, because Johnson is almost certainly going to walk away with it. And this is in spite of the lies and appalling oratory he favours (I never thought I’d hear a reference to Charlie Brown in Parliament, but I did yesterday). I mean, I never thought people could be so stupid as to vote to leave the EU. But they did (albeit, only just). In the same year, I didn’t think people could be so stupid as to put Donald Trump in the White House. But they did. I’m not even going to wonder if they could be so stupid as to freely vote Johnson into No. 10, because I’m pretty certain they will be.

And all because they desperately want Brexit.

There is only one party that has had the balls to state outright that if they come into power they will stop Brexit. That is the Liberal Democrats. And that’s who will be getting my vote in the GE. I don’t care what their other policies are, because it simply doesn’t matter that much. But Brexit does matter. A lot.

So I urge all Remainers out there to ditch their political allegiances and vote for the Lib Dems. I also urge all young people – especially students – to plan ahead and make sure they can vote wherever they will be on 12 December. I’m fairly certain Johnson will have considered that the younger voters are the strongest remain demographic, and that with most Universities finishing for Christmas around that time some will perhaps not be registered properly to vote.

Brexit is wrong. It was wrong in 2016. It’s wrong now.

And it will still be wrong in 50 years’ time, when most current Brexiters won’t be around, but a lot of young people will be. It’s your future. Make sure you try and save it.

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Eggs snapping exotically in a pool of butterMost people will remember the Edwin Curry saga back in 1988, where she claimed that most eggs were contaminated with Salmonella. It led to a dramatic fall in egg sales (60%), and it destroyed her political career.

Ironically, there actually had been a Salmonella epidemic, even though the furore resulting from her comments sought to deny any problem.  The whole matter is quite complicated, and I won’t go into it here. But it wasn’t until about 2017 that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) finally announced that it was, after all, safe for “vulnerable people” (pregnant women and the elderly, in particular) to eat soft-boiled or runny eggs. It’s funny that even though there was “no problem” back in 1988, it took 30 years to officially come out and declare it in such a way that the implication was there had been a problem for all that time, but there you go.

In between times, it had been a case of yes/no/maybe when the question about the safety of eating eggs – especially soft-boiled or runny ones – cropped up.

I read an article somewhere in the last week that mentioned a Salmonella outbreak across several flocks (the difference between a “flock” and chickens in general is a highly complex and political situation in itself). But an FSA alert came through today warning people that British Lion Eggs (those are the ones that Brexiters believe have red, white, and blue yolks, and which play Land of Hope and Glory when you crack one) from Flock 1UK1187 with Best Before dates of 22, 23, and 24 September may be contaminated with Salmonella, and should be cooked thoroughly.

FSA emphasises that this affects a single flock code, but the story I saw suggested more might be affected, so I expect this one to escalate.

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I’m a lifelong Labour voter. In my youth, I was even an active member. But I simply cannot vote for them while Jeremy Corbyn is leading them. That’s just on general policies and leadership issues, though. Corbyn’s turn-and-turn-about half-and-half stance on Brexit is a separate reason why I wouldn’t vote Labour, no matter who was leading them.

I have only voted for one other party in my life, and that was at the last elections. My vote was specifically for an anti-Brexit party and, in hindsight, it was a wasted vote. ChangeUK made the right noises, but it wasn’t their time.

The Lib Dems gained a lot of votes in those elections, but now they’ve come right out and said that they will cancel Brexit if they are elected in the forthcoming General Election.

They’ve got my vote. I was already planning to vote tactically this time. Now I won’t have to.

Brexit was a national embarrassment on 24 June 2016, and it has become more so with every single day that has passed since then. The sooner it is stopped, the better we will be able to repair the material damage it has caused. As for the underlying social damage, well quite frankly, those idiots who got us into this back in 2016 can go to hell. It’s where they were trying to take the rest of us these last three years, so they’ll be quite at home.

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EU - dropped starYou will remember the Leave campaign’s Brexit bus, which stated:

We send the EU £350m a week – let’s fund our NHS instead

This was enough to persuade many people of restricted intelligence to vote to leave the EU back in 2016. They genuinely believed that we really did send that amount of money and got nothing in return.

Worryingly, even as recently as October 2018, 42% of the electorate still believed this stupid claim to be true – even though it has been proven false many times over. We have never “sent” £350 million, and whatever we do “send” doesn’t take into account the rebates, grants, funding, and business contracts that EU membership brings.

Even if we did actually send £350 million a week and get absolutely nothing in return, a recent study has concluded that Brexit has cost the UK £550 million a week since the referendum! And that’s on top of the imaginary £350 million. The study also said that there had been no significant boost in exports following the collapse of the GBP. A massive boost in exports is a major tenet in the Brexiters’ unicorns and rainbows vision of the future, remember.

The damaging cost of Brexit in this study is actually the lowest figure out of several other studies into the same issue. Previously, Goldman Sachs has estimated that Brexit has cost us as much as £600 million a week, and the Bank of England put it as high as £800 million a week (both on top of the imaginary £350 million). One thing I am certain of is that studies by Goldman Sachs and the BoE are to be trusted more compared with the warped fantasies of thick prats in Wetherspoons who drive white vans.

Even taking this latest (and lowest) figure, and assuming that the £350 million was real, if Brexit finally happened tomorrow, it would take over two years before we started to be “better off” by not paying that £350 million anymore thanks to the extra it has cost us already. And even that is based on the unicorns and rainbows premise that the £350 million we won’t be sending to the EU isn’t going to be needed trying to claw back what we loose by not being EU members.

Of course, the typical level of Brexiter intelligence dismisses these figures – which are all in the same ball park, and produced by experts – and instead adopts some imaginary and undisclosed number they prefer the look of, and which equates to us somehow being better off.

Brexit is a screw up of Biblical proportions.

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