The government wants a bigger slice of your pizza

By Owen Brown

 

If you’re having some mates round, are off for an awkward Tinder date or just can’t be bothered to cook, why not grab a pizza on National Pizza Day?

Unfortunately for lovers and providers alike, dark days could lie ahead for the nation’s favourite takeaway vendors.  A range of measures designed to ramp up the cost of your pepperoni (or other flavours of) pizza are being drawn up by Britain’s bloated bureaucratic sector.

The government response to the often exaggerated ‘obesity epidemic’ has already seen the 2018 sugar tax ramping up the cost of fizzy drinks and spoiling the taste of a number of the drinks that altered their ingredients to get round the levy. With more of these fun-killing taxes in the pipeline, let’s analyse your pizza evening and see how government bossy bods and nanny state edicts could ruin your evening.

Ordering

With the arrival of takeaway apps, gone are the days of long, crackling conversations on the phone with the nearest vendor that answers. However, the government is now spearheading an attack on convenience with its plans to levy a 2 per cent ‘digital services tax’ on digital firms. In a blog on the digital services tax last week, the TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Islay Aitchison explained that like all taxes, it will not exist in a vacuum, and the increased costs will be passed onto the consumer

Pizza

The most important item, few are complete without meaty toppings. However, plans drawn up by Oxford University researchers could see the price of processed meat rise by 79 per cent, likely putting paid to might meaty pizzas and posing serious risks to the economic viability of numerous small vendors and independent, late-night pizzerias. 

Drinks

The government’s sugar tax has already increased the price of fizzy drinks, with the takeaway favourite 1.75 litre bottle of Coke rising to £1.49. However, government proposals include adding further nanny-state taxes onto milkshakes, which could see prices increase up to 10 per cent or their flavours ruined through reformulation

Discounts

As a cheap alternative to eating out, special offers are a natural consideration for takeaway fans. Yet everyone’s favourite ‘2-for-1’ deal could be under threat. Food-Scrooge Jamie Oliver is working with Nicola Sturgeon to ban them in Scotland, saying it makes working families unhealthy.

The overarching impact

It is clear who these bans and taxes will impact the most; the ordinary working family. Those who can’t afford the latest avocado and quinoa meal, or for whom the finest organic ingredients are too much of a stretch when feeding hungry kids, are those that will have their options reduced and costs increased.

They will bear the portion of the burden that gets passed onto the consumer, and bans on money-saving deals will see takeaways become more of a luxury. While politicians like those at Essex County Council will continue to spend taxpayer’s money on expensive food, the poorest households will likely see the 30 per cent of their income already spent on indirect-taxes rise.

As well as being unfair, these taxes don’t actually work. Manufacturers are now replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners which can be just as unhealthy, eliminating the intended health benefits. 

We must not forget the restaurateurs and takeaway providers, rare examples of success stories on the struggling high-street. As shops lie empty, the government should be encouraging enterprise and the take-up of retail space by letting this market  thrive, not strangling new businesses with high taxes and anti-competitive practices.

Boris Johnson was right to support stopping the milkshake tax, and propose cutting business rates. Adults are mature enough to vote on important issues, so why are they not trusted to eat healthily? Matt Hancock should take inspiration and put people’s liberty first. If we are what we eat, we should each be free to be whatever we want, and for many of us that means munching away on discounted pizza as we enjoy the generous discounts available on National Pizza Day.