SOUTH Shields MP David Miliband has added his voice in opposition to the Government’s controversial ‘pasty tax’.
As the debate continues to heat up, he slammed Chancellor George Osborne’s bid to add VAT to some hot food.
His comments come as South Tyneside butchers Dicksons today launched a Gazette-backed petition in their stores – protesting at the planned hike.
Gazette editor John Szymanski said: “This proposal is an absolute nonsense from start to finish. If carried out, many people will be hit in the pocket as well as jobs being lost.
“This proposed tax must be axed and I’d urge everyone to sign the petition to show their support.”
Mr Miliband questioned why millionaire Mr Osborne thinks it right to tax pasties – but not caviar.
He said: “The ‘pasty tax’ is yet another example of this government not living in the real world.
“George Osborne thinks it is acceptable there is no tax on caviar, but it is fine to tax a pasty. The Tory/Lib Dem budget is hitting people hard.”
Mr Miliband said he feared the tax plan – announced in last week’s budget – could damage businesses such as Dicksons.
The firm employs about 250 people in 21 stores across the North East, with a head office at Middlefields, Tyne Dock, South Shields.
He added: “I will continue to speak up against any government proposals that affect residents and businesses of South Shields, like Dicksons.”
His stance was welcomed by Michael Dickson, the firm’s managing director, who has also slammed the VAT move.
Mr Dickson said: “David Miliband is a supporter of Dicksons and has a real understanding of the heritage of both our brand and this traditional market.
“That market existed long before fast food and takeaways were introduced.
“He has supported us in our recent factory extension and recognises the importance of family businesses such as ours as key employers across the region. I am pleased he and so many of his colleagues in Westminster continue to speak up on our behalf.”
Shoppers can sign petitions at Dicksons outlets in Fowler Street, King Street, Prince Edward Road and Boldon Lane, all in South Shields.
They will also be in shops in St James Mall, Hebburn, and the Viking Centre, Jarrow, and at the Gazette office in Chapter Row, South Shields.
Mr Dickson added : “We are urging people to sign against this ludicrous attack on a traditional market, either online or in any of our shops.”
Mr Osborne wants to remove an anomaly where hot food takeaways are charged VAT while bakers avoid it. The industry insists foods like sausage rolls and pasties are not sold as hot food, but freshly-cooked food that is kept hot.
Market leader Greggs is calling on MPs to take up the issue, and has plans to set up an online petition.
Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for economic growth and jobs, has slammed the move. He said it was an attack on firms in recession.