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In a new major coup for the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), the government has advised that smaller retailers will not have to keep detailed records of sales when the carrier bag charge is extended to all stores at the end of April.

In an email to the NFRN today (March 3) the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that, subject to parliament’s approval, the charge would be applicable in stores of all sizes from April 30 2021.

It further advised that the government had no plans to extend the reporting requirements of larger stores to those with fewer than 50 employees.

The NFRN has campaigned long and hard, engaging with ministers and officials at DEFRA to get the levy extended to all retailers.

Commenting, NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “It had always seemed odd that while our members in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland charged their customers for single-use plastic bags, smaller stores in England were not included in the legislation.

“That’s why we took every opportunity to lobby ministers, from deputy prime minister Nick Clegg through to Rory Stewart and Theresa Coffey, asking them to think again and to extend the levy to all stores in England. At the same time, we have always pressed DEFRA to ensure that the new regulations do not impact negatively on our membership by burdening them with unnecessary and time-consuming paperwork. We are pleased that DEFRA has taken on board our members’ concerns and is acting on them.”

Mr Reddish continued: “The carrier bag charge has made a huge difference by drastically cutting the use  of single-use plastic bags so we are delighted that smaller retailers can now play an even greater part in reducing waste and raising money for local charities.”

The 5p charge took effect in larger stores in October 2015. However, some NFRN members have implemented the levy in their stores, donating some of the proceeds to good causes.

Ahead of April 30, the NFRN will be producing guidance and point of sale materials for members. This will be available from the Federation’s website,  thefedonline.com.

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