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VAT tax hike 'cost families £1,800'

Chancellor George Osborne's VAT tax hike has cost families an average of £1,800 since its introduction four years ago, Labour has said.

Shadow treasury minister Shabana Mahmood said the 2.5% increase in the rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20% - which took effect on January 4 2011 - had cost families with children £450 a year on average, according to Treasury figures.

"Before the last election David Cameron and George Osborne said they had no plans to raise VAT, but that's exactly what they did after they got in," she said.

"Raising VAT on families and pensioners is what Tory governments always do. The truth is that the only people who have got a big tax cut under this Government are those earning over £150,000."

A Conservative spokesman said that they had been forced to take "difficult decisions" to deal with the deficit in the public finances left by the last Labour government.

"Labour appear to be saying they would borrow £12 billion more to reverse this decision - meaning more debt for our children to repay," the spokesman said.

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