Tuesday 1 February 2011

A fat-headed tax

In their latest piece of gratuitous nannying, Oldham Council have announced plans to impose a “fat tax” of up to £1,000 a year on takeaways serving “unhealthy” food. The first question, of course, is “what business is it of theirs anyway?” And the second one is “under what powers would they be able to levy such a tax?” A council can’t just arbitrarily decide it doesn’t like some businesses operating in its area and charge them extra.

The article also suggests that there might be opportunities for businesses to get round the tax by installing more seating, or by tweaking their menus. After all, you can offer a huge range of salads and other unappetising, politically correct dreck, but you can’t force anyone to actually eat it. And you can imagine lawyers sharpening their pencils for a judicial review of the way the council was sorting businesses into sheep and goats (or should that be lettuces and goats?). Would, say, Subway avoid the tax because they offer some low-fat options, when depending on your choice of ingredients and sauces you can eat just as “unhealthily” there as you can anywhere else?

Of course, they have form on things like this. A year so ago they announced plans to impose severe restrictions on any off-licences selling alcohol at below 50p a unit. Funnily, nothing has ever come of that. In reality, it’s just empty political grandstanding that will do nothing to solve Oldham’s genuine problems. If Oldham Council want even more empty shops in their streets, this sounds like a brilliant way of achieving it. Needless to say, some of the comments are highly amusing, particularly that by JayB at 09:37.


  1. They are truly mental.

    Even if it were desirable to reduce the amount of takeaways that people eat, and even if the tax were legally enforceable, what difference would £1,000 make to a small business which is already paying £100,000s in VAT, PAYE and so on every year?

    Answer = zilch.

  2. Oldham. The land of the donkey's that vote Labour because their dad did, that Oldham?

  3. It is in fact currently controlled by the LibDems, although I expect that will change come May.

  4. Its all for our own good of course!

  5. It's exactly the same logic as taxing alcohol to reduce problem drinking and I would expect it to be just as effective.

  6. I learned from the Metro that food makes you fatter if you take it off the premises rather than sit down inside and eat it. No tax to pay if you have sufficient inside seating.

  7. This has the mark of one of those 'winterval' type stories. Hack-journalist fiction of the worst kind.


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