Featured Posts

Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

Read more

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

Read more

Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

Read more

Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

Read more

UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

Read more

Woman trapped in deckchair for six hours

Category : Business

The lovely weather brings mixed results to various sides of northern life

The lovely weather hasn’t been a blessing to everybody. In Scarborough, an elderly woman is recovering after being trapped in a deckchair for six hours.

The 83-year-old took the chair out on the balcony of her second floor flat to enjoy the sunshine first thing in the morning, but at 8am its fabric seat ripped and she was left stuck.

No one realised until a fire tender came past by chance along Northway, where she lives, just before 2pm and its crew saw her signalling for help. They clambered up to ease her out and downstairs and took her for a check-up at Scarborough district hospital. A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire fire and rescue says:

This was an unusual incident, but firefighters are trained for every eventuality.

The warmth has been a bonus for the first consignment of 6000 trees which are being imported from Germany to help green Manchester City’s training complex on 100 acres opposite their Etihad stadium. The £110 million development is trying to be as ecological as possible, and an ‘instant wood’ is part of the package.

The trees had been facing a possibly long spell in a nursery acclimatising to north western weather, ie rain, but late May’s excellence has got them off to a good start. Their provenance has triggered an interesting debate on the unofficial City website BlueMoon about their provenance. German trees ‘are more efficient’ is the theory holding sway.

Finally in this brief pot pourri of early evening, weather-related, northern facts, our fish friers have responded to the Government’s leniency on Cornish pasties. Warm conditions may not seem ideal for lots of delicious batter, fish and chips, but the trade is doing well and remains the UK’s favourite fast food.

The friers are very reasonable and say that they “understand the reasoning behind the partial U-turn”, but understandably they would like to see all takeaway food treated equally. If pasties escape the full force of VAT, why not haddock, chips and scraps?

They append to their comments some historical notes which suggest that MPs should take their views seriously. Yorkshire friers won extra dripping in the First World War, in spite of the claims of the armaments industry which also needed animal fat for greasing weapons. And in the Second World War, fish and chips was taken off ration because they were seen as an easy, simple and essential source of nutrition for very large numbers of people.

The trade also employs 60,000 people and contributes £1.2 billion to the economy annually. Worth listening to what it has to say.

Does George Osborne have a point about pasties? Yes and no

Category : Business

Let’s face it – the chancellor is logically correct that pasties are ‘hot food’ just like kebabs, and therefore subject to VAT. But politically, a pasty tax is still bad policy

As the pasty tax protest rolls up at the gates of 10 Downing Street, it is time to say that the chancellor is right – and wrong at the same time.

It is fair to describe pasties as hot food and therefore subject to VAT. In almost all shops they are served hot because consumers wouldn’t want them any other way. They are cooked in small batches to make sure they don’t hang around on the shop counter for long.

Why, George Osborne rightly asks, should his local kebab shop owner be forced to charge 20% on a doner while the Greggs next door gets away with selling a VAT-free sausage roll just because the meat is wrapped in pastry and not pitta bread?

Stephen Gilbert, the Lib Dem MP for St Austell & Newquay, makes the spurious point that it is “simply wrong for the government to impose a tax on the humble Cornish pasty while luxurious caviar remains tax-free”. But we are talking about cooked food, offered hot to the consumer.

Nigel Lawson was explicit in the 1980s, when he applied VAT to hot food, that pasties should be exempt. But he failed to provide a rationale for why such baked goods should escape tax. Maybe, unlike Osborne, he liked a quiet pasty supper while reading his red boxes in No 11.

But was George’s VAT hike, however limited, a sensible policy? When ordinary families are struggling against inflation at 3.5% and wage rises limited to 1.1%, the last thing they need is the cost of their lunch to jump in price. Undoubtedly, pasties and sausage rolls are eaten by lower income groups more than Osborne’s circle of friends (David Cameron excepted, of course). And where there is a price rise, there are jobs at risk – and plenty of pasty makers are family-run firms in Britain’s depressed regions that need all the support they can get.

Gilbert says 400 jobs in his constituency are at risk, as is £7.5m to the Cornish economy, which is not the result Britain needs at the moment when unemployment stands at 2.65 million and youth unemployment above 1 million.

The wider point is that the government needs to adjust its income away from taxes on work to taxes on consumption and wealth. There are many consequences of such a shift in tax policy, but the main one would be to increase incomes from work – which would make pasties, even with VAT, affordable for everyone.

Pasty row hots up for David Cameron

Category : Business

The West Cornwall Pasty Company outlet at Leeds station where PM recalls enjoying his last pasty closed two years ago

David Cameron’s efforts to show he loves a hot takeaway far more than a private dinner with his rich backers came to a crumbly end when his fond memory of eating a large Cornish pasty at Leeds railway station turned out to be somewhat faulty.

The prime minister’s problems began at the Treasury select committee on Tuesday when the fiercely independent and somewhat lugubrious Labour MP John Mann asked George Osborne why he was imposing VAT on hot foods such as pasties. He asked the chancellor when he had last eaten a pasty at Greggs the bakers.

Osborne – more interested in the dynamic modelling of tax reforms than hot food VAT anomalies – looked nonplussed, and said he could not recall. One tweet suggested he was then probably subjected to a Treasury presentation where he was told that pasties were “similar to mini boeufs en croute”.

The Sun newspaper, currently intent on doing over the Tories, described him as the Marie Antoinette of the 21st century. Then Greggs chief executive Ken McMeikan denounced Osborne as out of touch, and warned hundreds of jobs were at stake if pasty prices were raised by 20%.

For Cameron’s handlers, facing polls showing that two-thirds of the electorate once again regard the Conservatives as the party of the rich, this was more bad news in a week already filed under challenging. So when – in the middle of a Downing Street press conference on the Olympic legacy – the PM was asked about the treatment of pasties in the budget, he was primed to say how often he eats them.

He began to wax lyrical. “I think the last one I bought was from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. I seem to remember I was in Leeds station at the time and the choice was whether to have one of their small ones or one of their large ones. I have got a feeling I opted for the large one, and very good it was too.”

But the West Cornwall Pasty Company outlet where he thought he enjoyed his last pasty closed two years ago. There was a Cornish Bakehouse booth at the station; that closed last week.

Despite U-turns on most things this week, Downing Street stuck to its line and insisted that the prime minister had eaten a pasty at Leeds station, but the date was unclear, and possibly the purveyors had not been West Cornwall Pasty Company.

This was just as well, since Gavin Williams, the ungrateful boss of David Cameron’s favourite pasty-makers, was not interested in Cameron’s endorsement of his product. He wanted “clarity and leadership” from the prime minister.

But clarity is a rare commodity in this area, since it seems a pasty can avoid VAT if it is served cold at the counter and then warmed elsewhere in the shop.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, not normally known for his proletarian manner, sensed he could save the squeezed middle. He rushed to a Greggs in Redditch – where he and Ed Balls ate sausage rolls – and announced that his party would make common cause with west country MPs and vote against the measure in the budget. Our middles may yet be unsqueezed.