Too much to do, too little time. Even cutting the grass has to go into the Google calendar these days. A recent survey showed that most people cut their own grass when they would be better off employing someone else to do it quicker. What you’re actually saving by doing it yourself is the equivalent of £7.68 per hour. Now, how many of us would choose to work on a Sunday for just £7.68 per hour. Strange, isn’t it?
The same goes for flat pack furniture. When I recently went to pick up a bench seat, two chairs and a table for the garden, I realised that they were either pretty flat or I’d have to build them myself. Not a problem I thought. I had the instructions, the tools and the rest of the day. Fortunately, I also had a tip from the chap who helped me out to the car with the boxes: “If I’m honest Sir, these are a pain to build. I do it all the time. The trick is to keep all the screws loose to the very last minute and then tighten them up in sequence.” He waved me on my way with the same casual manner, I imagined, as an instructor would use with a first time parachute jumper, as they fall out of a plane: “Remember and count to ten and make sure you pull the chord at the right angle or it won’t open.” If only I’d been told this earlier!
As it was, I spent the next five hours building that furniture. My investment in time was, let’s just say, significant. I had devoted an entire Sunday to this when I would have been much better off actually working. And that’s the fallacy of ‘saving money’ by doing tasks you’re not familiar with. Or not valuing your own time.
Cutting the grass is low skill. Building furniture is more demanding. But justifying to HMRC that what you’re doing is eligible under the R&D tax credit legislation is a whole different ball game. Yet we still see people ‘trying their hand’ at making a claim.
Take Lola group, the race car manufacturer, which recently went into administration citing HMRC’s resistance to paying it R&D tax credits as a major reason. One wonders whether Lola was trying to write something it knew nothing about. Was it, in effect, assembling self-build furniture without either the instructions or the specialist knowledge and never having done it before? The result was a claim that obviously wouldn’t withstand scrutiny.
So when comparing Jumpstart with someone else, ask yourself if they’re trying to sell you the flat pack equivalent of a Harrods table.
Posted on Friday, 25th May, 2012