It’s sometimes quite hard to believe how versatile the common garden 9×8 shed is. Besides the more normal use (if there is such a thing) of storing garden tools and equipment, the patio table and chairs, valuable bikes and lawn mowers and all manner of other things ‘which may come in useful’ the garden shed is quietly helping to improve the countries finances as this humble building is often the starting place for many businesses. The low cost and convenience of the shed is probably why it is called into service when entrepreneurs are looking for cheap space for an office or as a small workshop. By clearing out the collected rubbish from the shed you will often find a great deal of space into which you can fit a small desk and phone. Being even more brutal you can make enough space to allow your hobby to develop into a part time and then full time business. And all at no risk such as a long lease on a property else where.
As business expands you could buy another 9 x 8 shed to enable you to produce more but you need to bear in mind that you are not allowed to employ anybody without planning permission. Also if you are working from your garden shed it’s a good idea to get on with your neighbours and think about their entitlement to peace and quiet. Most neighbours would not have a problem with this generally.
The number of people believed to be using their garden sheds and other garden out buildings is estimated at nearly 80,000. A bit like everyone in Bedford working from their shed, amazing. A great deal of these people are working mums who like the low costs and the convenience of integrating their business into their family life. You will also find that most of these businesses are sole traders but in time many of these businesses will outgrow their garden sheds and move into small industrial units and start employing other people.
It also believed that the growth in shed based businesses is growing faster than in any other part of UK life. The average turnover of these businesses is in excess of £70,000 and the owners are reasonably confident for the future where they expect their businesses to flourish.
An example business person is a nurse from Fordingbridge, in Hampshire, who started her business in her garden shed and in a period of 18 months had grown and thrived into a viable business. The owner of Care 4U, Patricia Irons, said that her company had gone from strength to strength and now employs 17 people. Her business provides support for local hospitals, and cares for terminally ill people. They have now moved from the garden shed to a new office. Clearly an important part of the UK economy.
The good thing about this business is that the ethos is to help people rather that being overly concerned about excessive profits. Ms Irons said that she began the company to help other by treating them before their ailments or illnesses got bad enough for them to be admitted into hospital.
There are many business people who have used their garden shed in their business and these include Tom Uglow of Google, Kirstie Allsop, Wayne Hemingway, Peter Gabriel and Snoop Dog, musicians among many other. To this list you can add many authors and inventors. Harry Ramsden’s first fish restaurant was more or less a 9ft x 8ft shed and that reminds me I’m hungry and time to go.
Just over 2 years ago the story broke about the MPs expenses scandal where MPs were claiming for all sort of things which they were not entitled to but because nearly everyone else was at it they felt they were entitled to claim as well so they did not miss out. With their main home changing depending on what work was required, to paying for gardening work including new garden sheds, summer houses as well as a ridiculous claims for a 9×8 duck house. When all this came out everyone was disgusted with the attitude of the MP’s and the MP’s were disgusted at being caught out. There were many MP’s who paid a high price for their misdemeanours, some went to prison, after their claims for MP’s to be above the law was thrown out. Probably the highest in government at the moment is the deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, who was told to pay back gardening costs which he had claimed on expenses. Sir Thomas Legg sent Mr Clegg a letter after undertaking an audit of his parliamentary expenses as well as to 100’s of other MP’s.
On receiving this Mr Clegg made public his response noting that on Sir Thomas Legg’s recommendation he had made a repayment of £910 for these gardening costs to the Department of Finance and Administration. Similarly many other MPs made a big pubic showing of how wonderful there are by waving cheques in the air showing their repayment. What would have happened to someone else who got caught, effectively obtaining goods wrongly, and then saying ‘here you can have it back, aren’t I good’. I’m pleased I was not in this situation as I’m sure the local police station would not have been interested in my explanation.
It now appears that MP’s are pushing for a flat rate system to pay for their accommodation and travel. With this flat rate in place receipts would not be needed and they would be able to either not pay out and pocket this allowance or if they did need to pay anything out would spend only a fraction of the allowance and again pocket the rest. What a great idea – for the MP’s!! There would be no checks and they would be back on the gravy train and would be able to landscape their gardens and possibly replace their 9×8 sheds with something more fitting to their high expectations. I’m not sure why they abuse the system but why do they do it?
Is this right? What do you think? Should MPs be allowed to hide their allowances away?