The post-Christmas surge in shopper activity should not be mistaken for a return to consumer confidence, a research group has warned.

Firms that want to agree an extended timetable for paying their tax bills under the Business Payment Support Service might be faced with more stringent questioning from HM Revenue and Customs.

On 1 January 2010, the standard rate of VAT reverts to 17.5 per cent after a period of 13 months at 15 per cent.

Businesses are to get additional time in which to update price labels after the rate of VAT reverts to 17.5 per cent.

Business groups greeted the Chancellor’s pre-Budget Report with a mixture of encouragement and dismay.

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