New "shopping tax" will cost taxpayers £1.5bn over a decade, says the TaxPayers' Alliance

James Nickerson
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The TPA said the change will add £67 to the cost of living per household in England over 10 years (Source: Getty)

The government’s plan to introduce a mandatory charge for plastic bags will cost taxpayers £1.5bn over a decade, according to new research from the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

The plan, which comes into effect next month, means all large retailers will have to add a 5p fee to shopping bills.

Read more: Why EU plastic bag rules may have disgusting consequences

Chief executive of the TPA, Jonathan Isaby, said: “This plastic bag charge is to all intents and purposes a shopping tax which will add more to the cost of living for families throughout England."

Politicians rightly identify the cost of living as a huge concern to people, yet seem oblivious to the irony that their own actions are adding to the burden.

Despite the cost, the Scottish government said in April that plastic bag usage in Scotland had plummeted 80 per cent following the introduction of a 5p charge.

Read more: We should always heed the law of unintended consequences

However, the TPA found £67 would be added to the cost of living per household in England over the next ten years and is unlikely to fulfil its stated aim of reducing waste and resource use.

This is yet another example of a well-intentioned yet badly-thought out proposal which is being introduced without considering the full cost implications for consumers. Taken together with the minimal benefits for the environment and the potential for the charge to increase over time, this appears to be a very ill-considered policy which will fail to achieve its stated aims.

Taxpayers can only hope that the Government will review this scheme sooner rather than later and conclude that there are other, more effective ways of helping the planet without burdening consumers and retailers with unnecessary costs and regulations.

The Smart Bag Campaign, which is also campaigning against the charge, said unless the policy was amended, the new charge will take millions of pounds away from local high streets.

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