Pasty maker calls for leadership

Pasties have become the centre of a row about a change in the tax rate for hot takeaway food

Pasties have become the centre of a row about a change in the tax rate for hot takeaway food

First published in National News © by

The boss of David Cameron's favourite pasty makers has called for "clarity and leadership" from the Prime Minister in the row over VAT on hot takeaway food.

Gavin Williams of the West Cornwall Pasty Company said that the PM did not understand the impact which changes in last week's Budget would have on consumers and workers in the pasty industry.

Mr Cameron name-checked the firm for its "very good" pasties as he came to the defence of the VAT reforms proposed by Chancellor George Osborne, which have been branded a "pie tax" by critics.

The Prime Minister said that imposing the 20% tax on hot food served by supermarkets and bakeries would be fair to small businesses running fried chicken restaurants, burger bars or fish and chip shops and already have to charge VAT on takeaway sales.

And the National Federation of Fish Friers backed him, arguing that Mr Osborne's proposal would help create a "level playing field" between fast-food outlets and supermarkets.

Meanwhile, there was confusion over Mr Cameron's memories of buying a West Cornwall pasty at Leeds station, as it emerged that the firm's outlet there shut down five years ago.

Speaking to reporters at 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron described himself as a "pasty-eater", adding: "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."

Downing Street aides later said the PM might have been mistaken about the location of his purchase, after it was disclosed that the station's only pasty outlet - a Cornish Bakehouse - had recently closed. However, they confirmed that he regularly eats pasties when travelling.

Mr Williams thanked the PM for his endorsement for the company's products, but added: "What we really need from Mr Cameron right now is not advertising but clarity and leadership.

"We would have hoped that if he had been rubbing shoulders with our customers he'd better understand the impact that this move will have on them, and our sector and all the great suppliers within it."

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