Yesterday saw the introduction of the much talked-of Pasty Tax and I almost expected to arrive at the train station this morning and find the Metro’s front page leading with “Gregg’s in administration following a drastic downturn in sales.”
The new tax essentially means that pastries that are being kept warm will be taxed VAT at 20% whilst pastries which are hot only because they are straight from the oven can escape the same tax charge.
As a nation of pie lovers and as evidenced by the volume of traffic in bakeries such as Gregg’s on any one day, I wonder if an increase in price will stop people from buying their favourite foods. The media has reported that this tax could be the end of bakeries as sales slump yet almost every year we see an increase in the tax on alcohol and we still go to the pub?
But on the other hand, who will police this tax? The sausage roll patrol? I have visions of visiting a take-away shop at lunchtime and as I leave someone will ask me for evidence on how my pasty was heated, possibly holding a thermometer ready to question my statement. It could be that each till point has the option to select pie – straight from the oven or pie – from the hot plate.
With the suspicion that the British public will continue to purchase such delights, I have come up with a few options open to the pastry lovers amongst us:
- Continue to enjoy our much loved bakery products paying a slight premium for the service of having them kept warm for our added enjoyment,
- Buy the cheaper cold version and heat it up ourselves on arrival at our destination, or
- Time our visits to bakeries to coincide with pastries which are just removed from the oven
Those of you who know even a little about tax will fully appreciate that this is just another complication in the existing minefield of VAT on food and drink. I await the amendments and reversals that will no doubt be added to this specific introduction in the next few years.