Tax climbdown is cold comfort for pasty lovers
PASTY lovers faced price hikes in some shops and colder food in others as a controversial law came in to force.
As reported earlier this year, Chancellor George Osborne originally had plans to levy 20 per cent VAT on hot baked goods in his Budget.
The move prompted industry outcry, critics accusing ministers of waging class warfare against pasty eaters.
Mr Osborne later staged a partial climbdown by leaving out products that are left to return to "ambient temperatures" on shelves in bakeries and supermarkets.
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But there is still anger that food kept warm for customers – in hot cabinets at bakeries, burger vans, or chestnut stalls – will attract the full tax.
And now businesses fear the so-called 'pasty tax' will spell a loss of profits and customers despite being revised.
Some sellers increased prices yesterday, others turned off heating cabinets and let products cool, and some reported being completely unaffected – all dependant on whether or not they keep food warm.
Angry customers called the tax "petty minded" and "needless".
Pasty shops across the city have reported being hit in different ways.
Demi Buckley, of Lidstones on Plymstock Broadway, said the shop has opted to keep the heated counter on and add the VAT – but she worries sales could be affected.
It means the price of a medium steak pasty in a warmer has risen from £2.30 to £2.80, and large from £3 to £3.60.
"Every customer I've served has tried to contest it and I've had to explain," Demi said.
"So far, people are still buying them but I think it could hit the business big-time in the long-term.
"The situation is bad enough as it is. Rents are expensive. It's a fight to keep customers anyway. Many of them are pensioners who haven't got the money."
Lidstones customer Keith Woodward, 76, said: "I thought that the pasty tax was shelved after the great hoo-ha earlier this year. It's needless, and petty-minded of the government."
Rowe's, in city centre Cornwall Street, is among the shops to have opted to turn off heated cabinets and keep prices the same.
Manager Beckie Brady said: "It doesn't affect us when we are busy as they are constantly coming out of the oven and being sold.
"But when it's quieter we have to explain to customers that the pasties are not as hot as they ordinarily would be.
"Our waste is about 20 to 30 per cent higher, because we are throwing more away when they cool down and we can't serve them anymore."
Meanwhile, bosses at two of the city's largest pasty companies, Ivor Dewdney and Ron Dewdney Pasties, told The Herald the law has meant no change as they only sell fresh from the oven.
Phil Abbott, of Ivor Dewdney, said: "We all did quite a bit of work to change the government's mind. With the help of local MPs and people they turned it around. We were lucky because we have never reheated our pasties."
Katrina Hanmer, director of Devonport-based Ron Dewdney Pasties, added: "Adding 40p to a pasty was never going to work. If we had had to do it we would have seen a downturn in sales."