PIE-makers in St Helens have blasted Government plans to raise VAT on hot food as “half-baked”.
Three popular pie-makers have told of their dismay at Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to close a VAT loophole on all hot takeaway products.
In his budget announcement last Wednesday (March 21), Mr Osborne said that “anomalies” in VAT would be scrapped on October 1 this year - pending the result of a six-week consultation.
Under the plans, pies will have 20 per cent VAT slapped onto them as they are now being classed as “takeaways”.
But John Burchall, of Burchall’s Pies on Westfield Street, told the Reporter that not only is the proposed VAT increase unnecessary, it would be almost impossible to monitor.
He said: “We’re not happy about his one jot. It’s a completely unworkable law. I can understand adding VAT to hot food like fish and chips but our products are normally taken home and eaten cold.
“Sometimes customers ask for a couple of hot pies and a couple of cold pies. Does that mean I have to charge 20 per cent more for the hot ones?
“If it goes ahead, this law will be a logistical nightmare - particularly when it comes to all the paperwork.”
Colin Greenall, who sells pies from his Duke Street shop, agreed: “I’m not sure how this will affect us but I’m not happy about it. When we were registered for VAT - before the thresholds changed - the system was just crazy.
“This would be an unpopular move not just in St Helens but across the whole of the North West. It’s bad news for the industry.
Arthur Bevan, of Pimmies Pies, added: “Obviously we’re against this plan too. This could kill lots of bakery jobs. How can you bake a pie without making it hot!”
n Go to Page 15 for more budget reaction.