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'Pasty tax' poll reveals a real risk to region's flagship dish

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 14, 2012

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Consumers will stop buying pasties if Chancellor George Osborne goes ahead with his "tax" on the region's flagship dish, a survey has revealed.

Pollster YouGov's findings suggest pasty makers and shops will take an economic hit, confirming what many in the Westcountry had feared.

Its research also found more than two-thirds of Britons – 69 per cent – oppose plans to end the VAT exemption for hot savouries including pasties, pies and sausage rolls, which has been dubbed the "pasty tax".

Some 21 per cent reckon the sales tax – which stands at 20 per cent – should apply.

The survey of 1,567 people, which took place between March 30 and 31, also revealed that people would tend to buy a pasty cold if it meant escaping the additional charge.

The Chancellor's proposal means VAT will apply to "hot" baked goods – or those above "ambient" room temperature – when they are sold. Cold pasties escape the tax.

YouGov found that of people who buy hot pasties and sausage rolls regularly, 36 per cent will buy them cold instead to pay less. Some 32 per cent said they would simply stop buying the dish altogether.

The Government's consultation on effectively ending the exemption on baked goods in place since 1984 – which would add 50p to a £2.50 pasty – ends on May 4.

Mr Osborne faced ridicule when he explained to MPs that cold pasties would continue to be exempt from the tax, and suggested that was the way pasty-lovers could avoid VAT.

Tabloid newspapers used the remarks to evoke class warfare, drawing comparisons between the "let them eat cold pasties" sentiment and Marie Antoinette's infamous "let them eat cake" refrain to peasants during the French Revolution. The plan is to clamp down on supermarkets and chains using heaters to keep pasties, pies and sausage rolls "hot" but escaping VAT.

However, small bakeries selling goods straight from the oven have been caught in the crossfire, opponents say.

If the tax goes ahead, the impact on the region could be profound. Pasties provide employment for 13,000 people and generate £150 million annually for Cornwall alone.

MPs from all three major parties across the region have made clear their unease at the proposal, with Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs poised to vote against the Government in the Commons next week.

Vote in our poll to the right of this page.

How to support the Axe the Pasty Tax campaign

The Government’s consultation ends on May 4, 2012.Submissions to the HM Revenue and Customs consultation, addressing the questions it poses, will help shape draft legislation.The document is called “VAT – Addressing borderline anomalies” at www.hmrc. gov.uk/consultations/index.htmThere are other ways to register support. Signing the e-petition hosted by the Government at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ petitions/31807 is one way, or you can join the “Say No To The Pasty Tax” group which can be found on Facebook. Alternatively, you can write to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which is running the consultation. Address letters to David Roberts, VAT Projects Team, 3C/10, 100 Parliament Street, SW1A 2BQ. And please also write to the WMN at Pasty Campaign, 17 Brest Road, Derriford, Plymouth PL6 5AA, with your views.

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  • referee  |  April 17 2012, 1:47PM

    Josdave what the devil do bankers have to do with VAT on hot pasties. Take out food is for most people treat. I always think of the Rump steak I could have bought when I send £20 on a take away. Hot food take away is subject to tax. End of. Referee

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  • sandyshaw  |  April 16 2012, 10:27PM

    No one expects an individual to pay for a families worth of fish and chips, you pay for yourself and for half the total amount of children you have. So in your example you would pay £8 (+tax)for your families fish and chips. If you decide to take it in turns to buy then it still works out as £8 (+tax) cost to you in average. Cooked food is a luxury sector, it can be taxed, as it's purely optional and not a life essential. It's a service you are paying for as a trade, so it's right to be taxed. Maybe it should be more clearly defined, to show that 20p in the £1 you pay in the tax is not for the food you are consuming in your stomach but for the service you received from it being prepared and cooked for you which a member of staff/trades-person did for you. The food is not taxed.... It's the customers choice to have the food cooked, for which a service tax is fair for the government. A persons home is expected to contain a kitchen and cooking facility, if housing in the future changes and it becomes unreasonable to expect people to cook at home then the tax could change. But at the moment people receiving benefits and pensions receive a weekly amount of money which includes money meant for cooking each day at home, fuel and cooking equipment. If tax on cooked hot food was abolished then the government might argue benefits and pensions should be reduced.

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  • Charlespk  |  April 16 2012, 7:10PM

    I think you are being a bit selective about the actual market that is being damaged. I don't agree with the tax anyway. We have a situation in this country where a business person feels quite happy if they can make 5% or 10% of turnover as profit, yet the Government expect what is 16.5% of everyone's turnover whether they make a profit or a loss! It's what is known as Highway Robbery, and is why people resent paying their income taxes to keep the workshy layabouts on top of that!

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  • josdave  |  April 16 2012, 6:55PM

    The difference with fish and chips is that you don't have a choice fish and chips are always hot. With pasties you can have either which just makes the whole thing a bit daft.

    |   8
  • Charlespk  |  April 16 2012, 6:26PM

    So you think fish and chips should be taxed, but pasties not then josdave? Isn't that a bit unfair

    |   23
  • josdave  |  April 16 2012, 2:51PM

    This is a silly idea that will be dificult to enforce. If you have a pasty unless it is very hot who's to say you bought it cold or hot. Typical Tory trick to tax the poor again as if we don't have enough tax now food is under the knife. The bankers in their ivory towers are still laughing at the way we are picking up the bill for their blunders.

    |   8
  • ManofHemp  |  April 16 2012, 1:09PM

    A tax on food is just not on. This pathetic & convoluted money manoeuvre by Westminster & the bankers' little political helpers is the last straw for me even though I don't eat pasties quite so much these days. Pasties present convenient, tasty & basic food for those at street level. Why on earth should we pay tax on pasties, i.e., food, to bail out a failed & intrinsically parasitic banking system? In addition, even though the payment of VAT or any other indirect taxation for that matter is exactly what it says, ' TAX ', those who pay it are not ever considered by the media or politicians to be taxpayers. That divisive title of 'taxpayer' is given only to those who are taxed directly out of their wages or salaries. So just because I'm on benefits does not put me into a lower stratum of society beneath those hallowed individual taxpayers. I'm a taxpayer too and I will be heard. We are in this together and I'm also determined to include those who would hide in High Society rather than in the Big Society. Tax pasties at your peril.

    |   33
  • shagrats  |  April 16 2012, 9:52AM

    I found a great way around the tax this weekend. I made my own !. I still haven't quite got the pastry right, but at about 40p for a large steak pasty I can't complain.

    |   17
  • wotsupdoc  |  April 15 2012, 1:46PM

    Scrap the tax - better still scrap VAT!

    |   15
  • Doitdreckley  |  April 15 2012, 12:58PM

    Older yachts, boats sold outside of the EU (eg to the middle east) all VAT exempt. There should be a luxury goods tax and things like food left alone.

    |   6