Pasty tax: Cornish campaigners welcome U-turn

Bakers protesting over the so-called pasty tax in London in April
Image caption Bakers demonstrated outside Downing Street in April under the banner slogan "Save Our Savouries"

The government U-turn on the so-called pasty tax has been heralded as "fantastic" by campaigners in Cornwall.

They said Budget plans for a 20% VAT charge on pastry products from the oven would have hit sales and jobs.

But a government amendment means food cooling down rather than being kept hot in a special cabinet will not now be liable for VAT.

Campaigners said the change of plan was great news for independent bakeries and could mean jobs were not lost.

Mark Muncey, chairman of the Cornish Pasty Association, said it was "fantastic news" and thanked the people of Cornwall and the rest of the UK for their "enormous support".

"The way the whole industry came together was a very important factor in bringing about the changes," he said.

'Hot because it's fresh'

During a parliamentary debate last week, MPs from all three main parties criticised Chancellor George Osborne's proposals, arguing they were unenforceable and would have an adverse impact on jobs and businesses.

The government said the change showed it was listening.

Phil Abbot of Devon pasty makers Ivor Dewdney said: "At least they admitted that it was wrong and it takes a brave person to put their hands up, saying 'I was wrong' and drop the whole issue."

He said it would have been unfair for bakers to be hit with the same charges faced by fish and chip shops that keep food hot in heated cabinets.

"With a bakery it's hot because it's fresh and has just come out of the oven," he said.

"It's not quite the same as having it in a heated cabinet.

Image caption Pasty tax protesters who made their point in Falmouth greeted the change of heart

"We cook our pasties throughout the day. When they get cold I have to throw them away."

'Great day'

The increase in VAT would have meant 40p extra on a £2 pasty.

Mr Abbot said: "You didn't get a bigger pasty for that 40p and the producer didn't get any more profit for that 40p, it just went straight to the government.

"If it had gone ahead and people didn't buy as many pasties you wouldn't make as many pasties and if you didn't make so many pasties you wouldn't need so many staff. The same goes for shops and suppliers."

Ed Rowe, the so-called Kernow King, who led a big anti-pasty tax march through Falmouth, said: "It's a great day for Cornwall."

Cornwall Food and Drink called the change "great news for Cornwall's enormously important bakery industry, in particular for all those small independent bakeries in villages and towns".

The campaign against the pasty tax had transatlantic support, with a petition signed by 500 US residents from Calumet in Michigan whick was presented by Jean Ellis and Jeanette Medlyn to the Mayor of Camborne.

Mrs Ellis said upon hearing news of the U-turn, she immediately put it on the local area's Facebook page and contacted the chairperson of the upcoming "Pasty Fest" in Calumet.

"We're all very happy that we could help a little in this effort and support Cornwall and especially Camborne, Calumet's Twin town," she said.

"Congratulations to all... proper job!

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