Hundreds call for ‘pasty tax’ re-think

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PASTRY lovers in Hartlepool are throwing their weight behind a campaign calling for the Government to scrap its “pasty tax.”

More than 1,000 customers have signed petitions put in the town’s five Greggs stores.

In just one week, the bakers have collected 1,330 names from people opposed to the Government’s decision to add 20 per cent VAT to all hot food, including pies, pasties and toasted sandwiches.

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The VAT previously only applied to hot food takeaways but now threatens to hit bakers and supermarkets where the food is sold above “ambient” air temperature when they are sold.

The move was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget.

Richard Hutton, Greggs’ finance director, said: “The positive reaction to the petition we introduced in all of our shops last Friday has been overwhelming.

“This fantastic support shows just how strongly people oppose the Chancellor’s proposal and reinforces our view that in campaigning against this tax we are doing the right thing for our customers and the bakery industry in Britain.

“I hope that we continue to receive the overwhelming support that we have had so far which we hope will persuade the Government to reconsider their ill thought through proposal.”

Greggs has three stores in the town’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre plus branches at Belle Vue and on the Fens estate.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has also spoken out against the plans which he called a “farce.”

Ken McMeikan, Greggs’ chief executive, added: “We do not believe that our freshly baked savoury products should be subject to VAT.

“We have a six week period where we will be vehemently putting forward our case to the Government that the proposals are wrong and VAT should not apply to freshly baked savouries in the bakery industry.

“At a time when ordinary, hard working people are under enormous pressure, they need help in making their money go as far as possible, not to see an increased tax on something they didn’t have to pay tax on previously.

“I believe that there will be job losses and closures of businesses as a direct result of the Chancellor’s proposals.”

The bakers plan to march on Downing Street as soon as the petition reaches 100,000 names.