Pasty tax fears not pie in the sky

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Joe Hall is MD of Hall's Bakery Ltd
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Joe Hall is MD of Hall's Bakery Ltd

“Everyone is absolutely petrified, this has the potential to wipe us out.”

The words of one Chorley baker, as he discusses a ‘pasty tax’ introduced by Chancellor George Osborne last month.

Joe Hall, owner of Chorley-basedHalls Food Group, best known for its pie shops, is one of many caterers across the country to be left baffled by a proposed increase in taxation.

As part of the government’s budget, Mr Osborne suggested putting a 20%VAT rise on food that is served ‘above ambient room temperature’.

An idea that, if implemented, could add up to £60,000 to Mr Hall’s costs every three months.

Mr Hall said: “The danger is it changes people’s habits - so if someone might by a pie, a bag of crisps and a cake, if the pie goes up 20%, they might not buy the crisps.

“People are living off what they buy from us and we realise that and try and do whatever we can to put offers on, but there is only so much we can do.

“If the price goes up (by 20%) we cannot afford that, we would have to put the prices up and that is going to mean the poorest people are going to be hit the hardest.”

The consultation regarding the budget will run until next month and, if the Treasury decides to leave it unamended, companies like Joe Halls could be faced with a potentially fatal bill.

Greggs, located on Chapel Street, is also involved in a ‘Save Our Savouries’ campaign, to persuade the Government to review its proposals.

Ken McMeikan, Chief Executive of Greggs, said: “We do not believe that our freshly baked savoury products should be subject to VAT.

“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 tax on something they didn’t have to pay tax on previously.

“I will campaign on behalf of the UK consumer and the bakery industry, because I believe that there will be job losses and closures of businesses as a direct result of the Chancellor’s proposals.”

Petitions are available to sign at all Greggs stores.