Tesco takes £3.4m out of charity plastic bag sales to fund ‘admin costs’

Supermarket giant withdrew 10 per cent of proceeds from plastic bag tax last year, figures show

May Bulman
Saturday 09 September 2017 19:38
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Government statistics show that the supermarket giant withdrew £3.4m from the funds generated from the 5p charge on bags — amounting to 10 per cent of the total proceeds
Government statistics show that the supermarket giant withdrew £3.4m from the funds generated from the 5p charge on bags — amounting to 10 per cent of the total proceeds

Tesco has come under fire for deducting millions of pounds of charity donations from the plastic bag tax to cover “administration costs”.

Government statistics show that the supermarket giant withdrew £3.4m from the funds generated from the 5p charge on bags in the year to March 2017 — amounting to 10 per cent of the total proceeds.

No other major supermarket made any such deductions, and leading senior MPs have subsequently urged Tesco to follow their lead.

The plastic bag tax was introduced in England in October 2015, and requires all employers with more than 250 staff to charge customers in England for disposable plastic bags.

It has been largely successful, leading to an 83 per cent reduction in their use – the equivalent to nine billion fewer bags.

Companies can deduct a portion of the revenue to cover “reasonable costs” of administering the donations, but the Government is clear that it expects the proceeds to go towards good causes.

Responding to the findings, Mary Creagh MP, chair of the environmental audit committee, said the supermarket should swiftly drop the “ridiculous” charge.

“The legislation for the 5p plastic bag charge is clear that the money raised should go to good causes,” she said.

“Five years after the horsemeat scandal and three years after a false accounting scandal, Tesco finds itself again in the spotlight for doing the wrong thing. They should drop this ridiculous charge immediately.”

A spokesperson for Tesco’s said: “Since launching in 2015, our Bags of Help initiative has provided more than £33m to over 6,400 local community projects.

“A small proportion of the money raised is used to run and administer the scheme in partnership with the charity Groundwork, who help distribute the money to good causes.”

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