06/04/2012 08:07 BST

Hot Cross Buns: Pasty Tax Threatens To Cash In On Easter Treat

Hot cross buns could prove a costly Easter treat under the government's proposed VAT plans, with the bun the latest British snack to feel the heat over the pasty tax.

Biting into a spiced raisin bun straight from the oven might a traditional paschal pleasure be, but under George Osborne's proposed changes it too could succumb to the 20% charge proposed for pasties and pies "above ambient temperature".

Greggs, Britain's largest bakers bake all its goods in the shop, meaning that a warm hot cross bun would be subject to a 20% charge if bought before it cooled.

A hot or cold hot cross bun could be subject to two different prices under the tax changes if for example standing in the queue meant that the hot cross buns were sold at different temperatures.

Greggs had hoped hot cross buns would dodge the tax, as bread is exempt under the proposed VAT plans.

The news has caused an outcry on Twitter, as many lamented that the hot cross bun would no longer be "two-a-penny".

Organiser of the Campaign to Defend the Hot Cross Bun Keith Flett stressed that this threatened not just hot cross buns, but additionally the toasted teacake. He told the Huffington Post UK: "If Osborne does intend to tax the hot cross bun it is an outrage. It is an attack on the part of the Easter celebrations and no doubt will not go unremarked over the breakfast tables of middle England."

Signing bread with a cross was something that many medieval bakers did to warn off evil spirits from their bread. However from 1600, it was only bread baked on Good Friday that came to bear a cross in memory of the crucifixion.

Hot cross buns are said to hold special powers in traditional folklore. Some say that a bun baked on Good Friday will stay fresh for the whole year ahead. If hung in the kitchen, a hot cross bun is said to stop baked good from burning. On board ship, hot cross buns are thought to prevent the boat from sinking.

Greggs has started a petition to campaign against taxing the baked savoury.

Ken McMeikan, Chief Executive of Greggs, said:

“At a time when ordinary, hard working people are under enormous pressure, they need help in making their money go as far as possible, not to see an increased tax on something they didn’t have to pay tax on previously.

“I will campaign on behalf of the UK consumer and the bakery industry, because I believe that there will be job losses and closures of businesses as a direct result of the Chancellor’s proposals.

“We have a six week period where we will be vehemently putting forward our case that the proposals are wrong and VAT should not apply to freshly baked savouries in the bakery industry.”