Firm’s crumbs of comfort in ‘pasty tax’ battle

PROTECTING PASTRIES ... from left, Dicksons staff Nathan Fallon, Diane Pounder and Julie Richardson.
PROTECTING PASTRIES ... from left, Dicksons staff Nathan Fallon, Diane Pounder and Julie Richardson.

A SOUTH Tyneside bakery boss is taking crumbs of comfort in his battle to overturn a proposed ‘pasty tax’ – despite a major setback last night.

The Government last night faced down a Parliamentary rebellion over plans to add 20 per cent VAT to the price of sausage rolls and steak bakes.

A rebel attempt to kick out the Budget changes was defeated, although the Government’s majority was cut to just 35.

But in a move to see off a bigger rebellion, the Government has announced that consultation over the tax change was to be extended by two weeks, until May 18.

That has at least provided some hope for Michael Dickson, managing director of South Shields-based Dicksons, the pork butcher.

Meanwhile, South Shields MP David Miliband has pledged to continue his opposition to the proposals.

It comes as more than 2,500 people signed up to the Gazette-backed ‘Protect Our Pasties’ campaign, launched in conjunction with Dicksons.

The company, which has been based in South Shields for 59 years, and employs about 250 people and operates 21 stores in the region, has been overwhelmed by the support it has received from South Tynesiders.

Mr Dickson said: “I am not surprised by last night’s vote, although the extension of the consultation period is to be welcomed.

“A lot of the coverage of this matter has been tongue in cheek – it is seen as a bit of fluff, but the reality is that it will have a fundamental impact on people’s lives. It’s very bad news indeed.

“If this goes ahead, it would reduce people’s choice, and detract from a unique selling point. If you go down King Street or Fowler Street in South Shields, or any regional shopping centre, you can see how they are suffering.

“This will not just effect out turnover but it will impact on people walking past our doors – and they are not necessarily the middle-classes.”

Mr Miliband added: “I was very disappointed that the 35 Lib Dems gave the coalition Government a majority to pass this pasty tax.

“However, this does not end here, and I will continue to raise the issue with chancellor George Osborne as a matter of urgency.”

n The Government also narrowly defeated a cross-party attempt to alter plans to impose VAT on static caravans, but its majority was cut to just 25 after a Commons vote.

Ministers were warned the move would hit British manufacturers who make mobile homes and cost jobs throughout the supply chain and in resorts where caravan parks boost local economies.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to impose VAT on static caravans in his Budget, part of efforts to remove tax anomalies.