Greggs CEO leads bakers in protest over 20% VAT budget charge to fresh baked goods such as sausage rolls and pasties
Hundreds of bakers have braved April showers to deliver a petition of half a million signatures against the pasty tax to Downing Street.
Supported by a brass band, hundreds of bakers fitted out in white hats and chef’s coats chanted “save our savouries” in protest at a recent 20% VAT budget charge to fresh baked goods such as sausage rolls, pies and Cornish pasties.
Addressing his “fellow bakers” with a megaphone, Greggs CEO, Ken McMeikan, told the protesters he was both angry and resolute.
“We come here today with peaceful intentions but resolute determination to fight to the bitter end this proposed tax that will have a devastating impact on ordinary people who simply can not afford to pay 20% more for everyday food,” he said.
“This government are showing themselves to be out of touch … with ordinary hard working people … with the challenges facing high streets … with the poorest in this country who need higher aspirations and hope not higher prices,” McMeikan told the crowd.
Employees from various baking companies had come from around the country including Newcastle, Gloucester and Cornwall to deliver a petition signed by over half a million people in just three weeks, to protest against the so-called pasty tax, introduced by George Osborne during the budget last month.
Arguing that the government needed to create confident customers with money in their pockets, McMeikan added: “People are angry, you are angry, I am angry … Today we send a clear an emphatic message to the government that ordinary people simply do not want this pasty tax.”
Donna Yates, 44, area sales management for Jane’s Pantry which has more than 100 employees, said: “It’s the working class people who buy our products and to put another 20% on them is going to be atrocious for them. They are not going to be able to afford it and we work for the local people so we don’t want that to happen to them.”
At around midday half a dozen representatives from the protest delivered several boxes of signed petitions to Downing Street.
Cornish Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert who was supporting the protest said the food tax could hit the Cornish economy to the tune of £7.5m a year and result in 400 job losses in pasty production alone and “more from the supply of ingredients and retail positions”.
“It is simply wrong for the government to impose a tax on the humble Cornish pasty while luxurious caviar remains tax free.
“I will continue to seek meetings with ministers to explain why they are wrong and I will be making representations at every turn as these proposals progress through the legislative process.”
A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Budget closes loopholes and addresses anomalies to ensure a level playing field. In fact, VAT is already paid on over 90% of all hot takeaway food. And HMRC estimate that VAT is currently paid on around 40% of hot meat pies, pasties and sausage rolls.”