PIE lovers face having to pay up to 20 per cent more for their favourite snack after confusing new rules were put in place by the Government.

The so called ‘pasty tax’ means pies, pasties and sausage rolls are now subjected to VAT – but only if they are served warmed.

Savoury snacks are currently VAT exempt, but this is set to change according to proposals announced by the Chancellor as part of the 2012 budget.

Lara Oddie, marketing director for Nelson-based Oddie’s Bakery, which has 16 outlets in East Lancashire, said the proposals were ‘ridiculous’.

Concerns of what constitutes a ‘warm pie’ have been raised due to pies that are freshly baked and still warm not subjected to the tax, while pies that have been warmed are.

She said: “It’s going to be interesting to see how they are going to regulate this.

"You could have a lunch time rush and a queue of people and the people at the front have to pay VAT and the people at the back don’t. It’s farcical.

“The current test for hot takeaways are that it was made to be consumed at an ambient temperature. The new test will be more subjective depending on whether it was hot at the time of purchase.

"You can’t have a situation where the VAT status of the products changes throughout the day.

“It’s a comical minefield. The customers will cause a riot – smaller bakeries will have no choice but to put the price up for the customers.

“The high street is already facing a crisis and there aren’t a lot of bakeries left. We feel like we are being attacked from all sides.”

David Girdler, from Holland’s Pies, based in Baxenden, said: “We are never happy to hear that people might have to pay more to enjoy Holland’s pies.”

And at Dales Butchers on Blackburn Market, there are concerns the new tax will hit business.

Gill Brooks-Lonican, chief executive of the National Association of Master Bakers, said bakers and customers have to rally together to fight the plans.

She said: “At the moment we have a few thousand signatures for a petition signed by both manufacturers and customers.

"We are doing an online petition too so that it has to be reviewed in the House of Commons.”

A number of bakers, including Oddie’s, plan to protest against the plans to their local MP.

However, Andrew Stephenson, Conservative MP for Pendle, supports the proposed changes and believes it is a long overdue review.

“I hope it doesn’t detriment the high street. Our local bakeries are really important and it’s important for us to support them.”

The new proposals could come into force by October.