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VAT cut gets only modest response

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The temporary reduction in VAT has only had a moderate effect on consumers, a poll has found.

The Chancellor lowered the standard rate of VAT from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent in order to encourage shoppers during the recession.

VAT reverts to its former rate at midnight on 31 December.

However, a survey carried out for the BBC discovered that, of the 1,000 people questioned, only 23 per cent said that they had bought items they otherwise would not have done to make use of the tax saving.

Almost one in three (27 per cent) reported that they would forward their spending plans to beat the New Year rise in VAT.

A similar proportion (32 per cent) intended to rein their spending once the VAT rate has increased.

Those most affected by both the VAT cut and the forthcoming rise tended to be in lower income groups, the survey revealed.

Despite the moderate shift in shopping behaviour, a majority of those polled (73 per cent) wanted the cut to be extended into next year.