VAT rate rises: Your stories

The standard rate of VAT has risen from 17.5% to 20% as the government looks to boost tax revenues to cut its deficit.

Business groups have warned that retailers will be hit by the increase, while opponents of the rise have said the poorest will be hit hardest.

BBC News website readers have been telling how this rise will affect their family finances and their small businesses.

Rachael Doyle, Preston, Lancashire

It's nothing less than genuinely depressing as money is so tight anyway.

Image caption Rachael Doyle says that this is a smack in the face to families like hers

My husband and I have recently had a baby which has meant added financial pressure and both my husband and I work full-time.

I wanted to take a full year off with my baby girl but have felt I have no choice but to return to work. We haven't found affordable childcare so we have to rely on our relatives.

I just don't know how we are going to cope with this rise, everything is getting so expensive.

Our wages have never increased anywhere near the rate of inflation and yet we are expected to continue to pay our way when the gap between our earnings and our bills is closing rapidly.

We are nearing the point where our earnings will simply not cover our outgoings and this could lead to a drastic drop in our living standards.

We don't lead a life of luxuries, we survive with the bare minimum, we keep looking for the value brands at the supermarkets.

The rise doesn't look like a lot when you look at it item by item, but it all adds up and it's just horrific.

I understand where the government are coming from, but the VAT rise just doesn't seem to aim at the right places.

Why burden families when it's banks and big companies who are to blame?

I am 25 and have been working since I was 16 and I feel there is no benefit from waking up every day to go to work. This is a smack in the face to families like mine."

Claire Brown, Cardigan, Wales

We have a small heating business and this increase will affect our spending.

All the products and appliance components we buy will have 20% VAT, which means we will have to pass on the increase to our customers.

We've already seen a decrease in the amount of calls we have, and this can only make it worse.

Add to that the increase in fuel prices and it's anyone's guess where the money is going to come from. We are very scared about the future.

This will be the death of many small businesses as they struggle to find work and meet the costs of living.

Keith Winwood, Dudley

Image caption Keith Winwood says he will have to reprice 1,000 products

I run a specialist carp shop and it will take two days to reprice around a 1,000 products in my shop plus around £500 to pay for the security tags to replace the originals.

And only for the prices to rise anyway due to petrol price rises, exchange rates changes, etc.

Then we will have the hassle of sorting out reclaiming VAT and payments at different rates.

David Smith, Oakham

We run a small business and the VAT increase will mean we'll have to make cuts to stay in business.

Everyone who works for us travels between 1,500 and 2,000 miles per week, fuel costs are much too high already and the VAT increase will mean we'll have to make cuts to stay in business.

Our competitors overseas, based in Germany and France, have much lower costs.

We won't be able to compete with them with the current diesel prices.

To continue at our present level, we need a reduction in the cost of diesel by at least 30 pence per litre.

Andy, Rotherham, South Yorkshire

Image caption Andy says energy prices have affected his finances

I am single and have been unemployed for nearly a year. I am trying hard, but I am struggling to find employment.

I receive £65 per week in Income Support Benefit, the government gives this me with one hand but yet takes away £13.00 in VAT with the other, leaving £47 to survive on. You don't see the benefits rise, but the VAT does.

The government should bring some type of chip and pin ID card out for the poorest people on the breadline so folk can claim back limited VAT on food and utility bills.

This has been an extremely cold winter and I don't get winter fuel allowance. This Christmas has been miserable.

I would like to see how David Cameron would survive on this. The richer get richer and the poorer get poorer.

James Sesay, New Malden, Surrey

It is obvious that the VAT rise will hit families like ours the hardest especially based on our modest income level.

I am at the moment without a job and my wife earns £800 to £900 a month.

We are very grateful that the working tax credit and the child tax credit, established by Labour, are helping us to stay afloat.

But even with that we are not in a position to pay off our debts in anyway and there are not enough jobs to employ many of us seeking work.

The harshness of the VAT rise is that it does not take into account the economic situation of families; as long as you are a consumer you will be subject to it.

Our family's case is classic of the vulnerable groups that will be hit hardest. We are a family of six, of which four are dependent (one old lady and three children).

I drive and the rail fare rise is already affecting my wife.

We currently live a life where each day is a struggle and I believe this VAT tax rise will hit us the hardest.

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