We were armed to the teeth with pasties. In truth the Government had no chance.
The Chancellor had mistaken the Cornish pasty as a tax-dodging push-over, but little did he suspect he had walked into a minefield and trampled on a prime symbol of Cornish pride.
The Government had presented it as merely the ironing out of a tax anomaly. But in drawing a new line in VAT law it proposed shifting the anomaly and unleashing an army of thermometer and clipboard wielding pasty police on to our high streets.
In fact, we can celebrate a double victory this week. With the pasty war won (but with the detailed peace accord still to be negotiated) we expected to have to turn up the pressure on the Government’s plans for a static holiday caravan tax. These caravans are primarily built on the east coast of the UK. The potential job losses in that region were likely to be even greater than the estimated 1100 Cornish jobs at risk if the pasty tax went through as proposed.
But the Government has backed down on caravans too. Just a 5% VAT rate will be charged. I had pointed out that the absurdity and unfairness of the static holiday caravan tax was even more apparent in Cornwall when you compare it with one of the primary and less welcome alternatives; i.e. the purchase of static bricks and mortar homes – especially lower priced local homes which may be within the reach of young families.
Static holiday caravans have restrictive rules. They can only be used for holidays, not permanent residence; therefore an preferable alternative to second home purchases, which impact on the housing choices of local families. Tax policy is supposed to discourage the things we want to control and encourage alternatives. The Government had this one wrong too and I’m pleased they’ve parked their caravan somewhere else.
I’m on my way back from a couple of days meeting some of those dealing with the Greece bail out crisis while the country has gone to the polls for a second time in succession. A privilege I am grateful to have the opportunity to take up.
I noted that Facebook floated on the stock exchange for $100bn. For want of a similar amount a whole European country (Greece) is at risk of going down the pan. So a social network site for happy holiday snaps and, sometimes, unhappy vitriol exchange is apparently worth more than a whole country of 11 million people! Umm…
We regret that the Government didn’t select any of the town team bids from Helston or Penzance. But I have a debate on this matter coming up in Parliament on Wednesday 13th June where I will ask for support for local town centre bids nevertheless.
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