Bakers to hand over 'pasty tax' petitions

Petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures apposing the 20% VAT on hot food will be delivered to the Treasury this morning.

Organised by the National Association of Master Bakers (NAMB), members of the bakery industry and supporters will be travelling to London to urge Chancellor George Osbourne to rethink his decision on taxing foods such as pies and pasties.

British Baker’s joint campaign with the NAMB, ‘Say no to the 20% pie tax’, has generated almost 2,500 signatures online via an e-petition, with more expected from print versions in bakeries nationwide. A further 106,000 NAMB members have shown their support.

Mike Holling, chairman of NAMB, said: “We have until 4 May to make the government see how this price increase will effect ordinary people and how unmanageable the implementation of the tax will be; concentrating as it does on the relative hotness of the product in comparison to the ambient temperature in the baker’s shop. The Association believes the proposal is ill-conceived and poorly thought through making it open to misinterpretation. It will be confusing for both bakery staff and consumers who will see it as an unfair tax.

“If we are to halt this unpalatable tax, that will affect the majority of craft bakers, it is essential that we create a united front to deliver a clear, precise and comprehensive argument to the Treasury and to do this, and fully represent our members' interests, the NAMB are preparing a serious and potentially legal challenge to the proposal.”

Greggs’ ‘Save Our Savouries’ campaign, in collaboration with The Sun’s ‘Who VAT all the pies’, has generated almost 310,000 signatures online and through Greggs outlets. It has been confirmed that chief executive Ken McMeikan will be joining fellow bakers to deliver the company’s petitions.

Further support has come from the likes of the Cornish Pasty Association, with its chairman Mark Muncey expressing his concern on the effect the tax will have on the Cornish economy.

Muncey said: "We are very concerned about the possible disproportionate effect the introduction of this tax will have on the Cornish economy as twice as many jobs per capita are connected with the food industry in Cornwall than the rest of the UK. Collectively, the Cornish pasty industry accounts as one of the largest employers in Cornwall therefore, this is going to affect a greater percentage of the Cornish economy than the rest of the country.

"Many of our retail members anticipate a 15 - 20% reduction in retail sales and some are already talking about the need to close marginal shops, which will lead to job losses. Having spent years trying to encourage and bolster the Cornish economy via the food industry, it appears counterproductive to now introduce this tax."

A decision on the pasty tax will be made on 4 May ahead of the levy in October. More than 100,000 signatures must be collected through the e-petition in order for the issue to be debated in the House of Commons.

Martyn Leek, editor of British Baker, said: “The newly proposed VAT could result in unnecessary pressure on food retailers. There are a lot of grey areas surrounding the hot food tax, and we should question whether it is more of a burden. A huge number of businesses across the UK, selling pies and pasties, have come out in suppport of the campaign to ‘say no to 20% pie tax’ and we now need to keep this momentum going, and make sure our collective voices are heard.

"Whether you sell pies and pasties, or are a consumer of these products, please make sure you sign our e-petition.”

To show your support, sign the e-petition at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32044.

Twitter hashtag: #NOpietax

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