How do you like your pasties in bed? Hot or cold?
Now, not everyone likes to eat pasties in bed, that may be something peculiar to Andy. Who is indeed very peculiar. But there is another amazing connection between pasties and beds that you might not be aware of, or even care about. But you should, because that connecting factor is the highly expensive VAT.
Most people have heard about the new VAT charge on food served hot, which already has a wardrobe full of monikers, from the sausage roll levy, to the pasty tax; the rotisserie chicken charge to the samosa tax, it all boils down to one thing- if you want hot food, it’s gonna cost you. 20% more to be precise.
But much to George’s (supposed) dismay, the country are not taking this lying down, and a number of interested parties are leading the charge (geddit) against the hot food tax. One such party is Greggs the baker, whose total share value fell after the tax was announced by a reported £30m, are supporting the Save our Savouries campaign and the company have warned they “will consider legal action if the Government does not back down on plans to introduce ‘a tax on food’.” Quite on what grounds they will challenge the Government’s right to implement tax changes is, as yet, unclear.
Greggs chief executive Ken McMeikan said he will be personally lobbying the Treasury and told the Journal “We want the Government to accept that this was an ill-thought through move which will harm growth and impact on businesses, individuals and act as counter-productive to the Government’s stated aims of growing the economy.”
And he is not alone. The entire population of Devon and Cornwall are getting behind the Cornish Pasty Protection Society* because a pasty can be eaten hot, cold or warm, and the new tax could potentially threaten hundreds of jobs.
The problem is with the draft rules as outlined in the current consultation. These rules levy a charge on food served at a temperature higher than the ambient temperature. This brings a multitude of problems. If Greggs start serving a long queue of sausage roll munchers, do they have to charge VAT only to those customers at the front of the queue, as by the end the food will have cooled sufficiently? What about a day like today when the ambient temperature is actually quite warm? Will Cornish pasties only be vatable in the winter? And do Greggs even intend to serve hot food? There are no hotplates, customers just happen to come across Steak Bakes when they have just come out of the oven.
All this and more will be discussed during the six week consultation period.
But what has any of this got to do with beds? Well, enterprising bed company Silentnight have observed the furore over charging VAT on hot food, and while VAT is unusually prominent in people’s minds, they have jumped on the sausage roll and are mounting their own VAT campaign.
Currently, beds are subject to standard rate (20%) VAT same as most other products. But Silentnight think that beds should actually be re-classified as ‘health products’ and subject to reduced rate VAT (5%) or exempted altogether.
The company, which sells 550,000 beds each year, said the health benefits of sleep are so huge that divans, headboards and mattresses should all be considered health products. “The bed is a health product,” said Adrian Fawcett, executive chairman, who also claimed that more rest could help reduce stress-related illness, the number of traffic accidents and even divorce rates.
We asked 1000 bed manufacturers and retailers whether they would like to charge less or no VAT on their beds. They all said yes. Unfortunately, we think this campaign has a sausage roll’s chance in the oven of making it into law. But it was a nice try, and has got us all thinking about eating savoury baked products in bed. Yum.
*this is not its real name. But you get the gist.