Fury over Pasty Tax
Mar 2012 28

Fury continues to grow over the pasty tax in Cornwall. Ever since the Chancellor first announced his decision to impose VAT on hot take-out food in last week’s budget, the pasty industry has been counting the cost. Greggs, the popular bakery chain, had £20m wiped off its share price as investors realised the new tax would mean 18 pence added to the price of a 90p sausage roll. Greggs employs 20,000 people across the UK. The boss of Greggs, who’d earlier put his case to the Treasury, told BBC’s Newsnight: ‘I do fear there are going to be job losses and closures of businesses as a result of this.’

The pasty tax is putting pressure on the Coalition too. Cornish Lib-Dem MPs are up in arms over it. ‘Pasties aren’t just a symbol of Cornwall, they are a key part of our manufacturing economy and thousands of people in Cornwall are employed either directly or indirectly by the pasty industry,’ says Alex Folkes MP. ‘Raising the price of pasties, especially when the extra money goes to the Government, not the firms, will cut sales and lead to job losses.’

Mebyon Kernow – which calls for greater self-government in Cornwall – also sees it as a blow for the local economy. ‘If and when this legislation is introduced,’ said one of its councillors, ‘your £2.50 medium steak pasty will now be £3, and your £3 large steak pasty will be £3.60. So that’s money out of ordinary decent Cornish folks’ pockets, a blow to our bakers and hardly great news for tourism.’

In response, the Chancellor has said people should eat Cornish pasties cold to get round the tax. Cornish MPs Dan Rogerson, Stephen Gilbert and Andrew George have all signed a parliamentary petition against the tax proposal. The MP for North Cornwall is especially keen to see the tax does not have a negative impact on the local pasty industry.

‘One proposal that has been suggested is to exempt foods which have Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status,’ argues Rogerson, ‘which the Cornish pasty does. This would mean that the pasty – which is a key part of our regional culture – can be protected.’ Only by using European Union bureaucracy to elevate the pasty to the similar status of Champagne or Parmigiano-Reggiano, it seems, may the humble pleasure of eating a warm pasty be saved.

Was this what the Chancellor intended? The Pasty Tax should be scrapped.

Tim is Grassroots Coordinator for Bath and the South-West. He is an historian, author and veteran local campaigner.

  • http://www.allkins.co.uk Dominic Allkins

    Ummmm…. it’s an EU imposed tax.

    There’s not a thing that the Tories, Labour or even The Monster Raving Loony Party could do about this.

    Mebyon Kernow could get full independence for Cornwall and it still wouldn’t make a difference if they decided that Cornwall should remain part of the EU.

    None of the major parties will mention this because they all think we should stay in the EU and don’t want to give the sheeple another reason to moan about the EU.

    The only way that we as a country can make our own decisions about the tax on pasties (or anything else for which VAT applies) is by leaving the EU.

    Unfortunately the TPA (of whom I am a great supporter) has fallen into the same trap as the rest of the commentators on this matter.

    Details here if you’re interested: http://eureferendum.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/making-mockery-of-themselves.html

    The only party that is prepared to do anything about this is UKIP, because it’s the only party committed to leaving the EU.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E2DURLP2QVYBF6YDT6OZIDRO7U I M

    Rubbish – get your facts right – Due to ECJ ruling, Osborne either had to put VAT on all hot food or none at all! 

    • http://www.allkins.co.uk Dominic Allkins

      I don’t disagree with what you’ve said at all.

      But my point stands. His hands are tied.

      You’re right that Osborne had to do one or the other. What he couldn’t
      do however was make his own policy outside of these two outcomes.

      The EU’s sixth directive governs this. It is an EU competency. The UK Government does not have the right to make it’s own VAT policy. It can only do what it is told to do by EU/ECJ.

      No UK government (of any party) could have done anything else.

      Even if the whole HoC and HoL were in agreement that this should not be done, the government of the day still couldn’t do anything.

      Not without leaving the EU.


  • Mardler

    You won’t catch me opposing lower taxes, but that’s not the big issue we face today: the government is too damn big.  Cut it 30% just for starters.

    • Dave

      Ok Mardler, but how? Please identify the 30% you’d cut – and the rest, as that’s apparently “for starters”.

  • John Roberts350

    Are the likes of oysters and caviar to be taxed or are they exempt being the favour of the rich!!!

  • John Roberts350

    Why can’t someone who has been educated in state schools with a working class background run our country?At least then we would have someone in charge who has experienced the life on the breadline and can relate to those working class millions who are this country’s backbone. About time the privelleged few were kicked into touch!

  • Geoffdees

    Disappointed that the above piece by TPA isn’t actually correct as the chancellor has not just  ’impose[d] VAT on hot take-out food’ it has always been there. Rather he has closed a loophole (which I suspect few of us had ever heard of anyway) where retailers were selling items which happened to be hot because they had just been baked. Many were exploiting this by heating up the items in order to sell them, or making sure they stayed hot until sold. Don’t misunderstand me – I am a member of the TPA – however anomalies in the tax system should be addressed and regarded as part of the journey towards tax simplification, which we all no doubt support.

    To avoid VAT on your hot take-away items like pasties, sausage rolls etc, do what I do. Take  your custom to a small business that is not VAT registered.

  • Andy

    if it is true that this tax was imposed because of some sort EU regulation then this government  needs to start addressing the fact that in every way possible the EU is having a serious effect on how this country is being run, right the way down to the humble pasty, and if an elected political party can’t even manage to set a fair system of pricing for what is only warm takeaway food, then it has no right to govern.

  • dave grylls

    Is it not afact that this tax has it’s origin in the European Union, we arefollowing orders from our masters    

  • Dave (bulldog) Grylls

    we must make an effort to publicise the fact,where this tax really comes from, not simply skim over the top.  I have not seen one report which emphasizes the EU origin.