VAT’s just too much

But you swallow bitter pill to reduce deficit.

TIMES have just got tougher for consumers.

Less than a month after energy companies increased their charges and as petrol prices approached an all-time high, the government increased VAT - meaning you are now paying more for almost everything.

The change, which came into force last week, saw the VAT rate increase from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent in the latest bid to tackle the budget deficit.

The rise could cost middle income families more than �200 a year.

Some big retailers have announced they will be introducing the VAT rise gradually, throughout the year, instead of a sudden price hike.

Items including food, children’s clothing, newspapers and magazines will not be affected.

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Businesses have hit out at the government’s decision, saying retailers experienced low sales figures over Christmas as a result of the heavy snowfall.

It is a bitter pill for many shoppers in East Devon to swallow, but is seen as a necessary plan of action to try and tackle the deficit.

Philip Stevens, 60, of Dunkeswell, said: “I am never pleased that taxes go up.

“I see the need for it to go up, providing they put it down as quickly as they can.

“Somebody has to pay for the deficit, but there is never a right moment for a rise in VAT.

“The sooner they get on with it, the sooner we get it over and done with.

“It is bound to affect people, as it will put costs up.”

Robert Kirby, 29, of Payhembury, said: “I think it is going to hit those worse off.

“I’m unemployed at the moment, so I will struggle to afford prices with the raised VAT.

“Everything is going to be going up and I’ve got no income coming in, so I feel the rich are going to get richer.

“But there is not a lot we can do about it.

“The people who are going to be hit the hardest are the lowest paid earners and the unemployed.

“I think the government had no choice. They had to hit the ground running.

“Times are going to be hard.”

Mike Jane, aged 47, said: “I think it is necessary to raise the rate of VAT, but I am not entirely happy about it.

“The government has raised taxation already and they have taken enough in interest duties and fuel.

“I think they see it as a way of sharing the pain across a greater spectrum of people.

“It will make you think more about what you are buying.

“I will be thinking twice about big spends.

“I have been doing up my house and the thing is that builders are now going to be charging 20 per cent on top of the initial costs.”

Bernard Spencer, 80, of Lyme Regis, said: “I don’t think it will have any affect on me.

“I don’t think I will be tightening my belt over the VAT rise.

“I think it will affect small shops.

“They are closing, because many shops only just scrape a living.

“I think it is unnecessary, especially as other costs are going up - like fuel rates.”

Helen Charters, 44, from Honiton, said: “We don’t have a choice about VAT – it’s there.

“I wouldn’t mind if the government made a promise that in a couple of years that they would reduce the level of VAT.

“Wages are not going up, so those on lower incomes will not have a choice.

“I will be trying to save money this year, but that is due to other reasons - not just the VAT.

“It is not just one thing it is electric, gas and everything else.”