Friday, 23 March 2012

Fight Osborne's Cornish Pasty Tax!

In Cornwall this week, Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s budget has caused widespread ill-feeling. Osborne’s applied the full force of VAT to food served to the public above ambient air temperature. For Cornish pasties, the Duchy’s staple diet, a huge price hike looms.

Each day in Cornwall thousands of pasties are eaten. Most bakeries sell pasties, but they aren’t necessarily piping hot. The purpose of heating is to cook them – the temperature at which they’re sold simply depends on how long they’ve been out of the oven.

Say we have a batch of freshly-baked pasties at the back of the shop, cooling on their trays. All the pasties on the front counter have been sold. The old price is £2.00. Now, thanks to Osborne’s carefree initiative, the customer will have a choice: either wait for the pasty to cool sufficiently and pay £2.00; or have one now and pay £2.40. Be ready for mad queuing systems, irate punters and frazzled staff.

Hundreds of Cornish people are employed in making and selling pasties; it’s business worth millions to the Duchy’s economy. Yesterday a campaign group – Say No To The Pasty Tax – appeared on Facebook. Cornwall councillor Alex Folkes, who set up the group, said: “Adding VAT will cause pasty sales to drop, with no extra money going to the baker. Lower sales will mean job losses, in areas which can’t afford them.” Cornwall’s economy is already creaking and Osborne’s idiotic legislation won’t help.

How HMRC will police the stupid rule isn’t yet clear while already, plans are being laid to circumvent authority. From writer and historian Craig Weatherhill, who lives in West Penwith: “Ok, I buy it, and pay when it's cold. Then they heat it up for me while I take a turn around the block or have a pint. Then I collect it hot, and eat it. But I bought it when it was cold. No VAT.” Simple and elegant, and Osborne’s initiative shunted aside.

All VAT changes, including the pasty tax, are up for public consultation until 4th May. This means you can have your say. The chap to write to is - let’s hope he finds himself a busy man.

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