Pasty tax protest hots up

Angela Walker, left, and Gillian Tough, shop manager, at Hardies Patisserie, with the Master Bakers petition against the 20% 'pasty tax'. Picture by Andrew Higgins 121513  10/04/12
Angela Walker, left, and Gillian Tough, shop manager, at Hardies Patisserie, with the Master Bakers petition against the 20% 'pasty tax'. Picture by Andrew Higgins 121513 10/04/12

SCARBOROUGH pastry lovers have less than a month to join the fight against “pasty tax”.

Hundreds of bakery customers have already backed the bid to scrap the Government’s much-maligned plans, which would see a 20 per cent rise in the cost of warmed pies, pasties and sausage rolls.

Hardies cheese and onion take away pastry which could be liable to VAT later this year. 121516. Picture by Dave Kettlewell.'10/04/2012

Hardies cheese and onion take away pastry which could be liable to VAT later this year. 121516. Picture by Dave Kettlewell.'10/04/2012

Hardies, Cooplands, Woodheads, Thomas the Baker and Greggs have joined forces in calling for a Government U-turn over the controversial tax.

Residents have put pen to paper throughout the town, with petitions in place at several Scarborough bakeries.

The Government is currently in the midst of a consultation period over the “pasty tax” which ends on May 2. The tax is due to take effect from October 1.

Hardies owner Ian Hardie believes the Government has got it wrong. He said: “I’m totally against it. Anything that increases the prices for your customers is not a good thing, and the level of tax in this country is horrendous already.”

The united bakers’ front has been forged after Chancellor George Osborne announced the plans in his recent budget. In the 1980s, chancellor Nigel Lawson introduced a VAT on all hot food. However, still-warm baked products, such as pastries and pies, were exempt.

The Chancellor’s proposal is that hot pies and pasties would no longer be exempt from VAT if they’re hot when sold,

Simon Thomas, general manager at Thomas the Baker, in Aberdeen Walk, believes the tax would be “impossible to police”.

He added that if it did come to fruition, it could have a detrimental effect on the business and the local economy.

Mr Thomas said: “If you are lucky, and arrive just as the sausage rolls are coming out of the oven they will be hot. However, if you arrive half an hour later that same product will be cold.

“Who will determine whether or not to charge VAT on it?”

He added that local suppliers have already been stung in the pocket in recent years by a rise in the cost of raw materials.

However, he added: “There is no doubt that should the VAT increase be applied we will sell less products.

“In turn many of our suppliers including our butcher, our vegetable supplier, our dairy and curd producers and many other local businesses will lose trade as a result.”

If the proposals do come into effect at the end of the year, typically, a sausage roll would cost around 10p more, with approximately 20p added to the price of a pasty, which usually costs about £1.

The potential price hike has already proved a flop with hungry shoppers in Scarborough.

They’ve branded the tax “ridiculous” and urged the Government to look at other ways to find the projected £50 million the tax will raise for the Treasury next year.

Pensioner Jim Harvey, 69, from South Cliff, was tucking into a sausage roll when he spoke to the Evening News.

He said: “It’s disgusting. I can see it’s a way to raise money, but there are better ways to do it.

“It’s the same as fuel. They know people want it, and enjoy it - so they tax it.”

Bank worker Chris Baxter had nipped out for a lunchtime sausage roll.

The 20-year-old from Hackness said: “I’ve just been in to sign the petition. I’m totally against it.

“It’s all thought out wrong, and the majority of people are against it.”

However, for 16-year-old Scarborough Sixth Form pupil Jack Robertson, the tax won’t put him off buying a pasty for lunch.

Jack, from Cayton, said: “I don’t eat them that much, but I would still buy them.

“They should tax cigarettes more though instead of these.”