Retailers have welcomed a recommendation that the 5p plastic bag tax should be kept simple and include small businesses.

The Environmental Audit Committee has suggested all shops in England should have to follow the example set in Wales, where it is compulsory to charge customers for single use bags.

“it’s a great way to give something back to the community”

It said the levy should apply to small businesses but that there should be reduced reporting requirements for businesses with fewer than ten employees, as is the case across the Welsh border.

NFRN national president Colin Fletcher said: “Since the levy was announced last year, the NFRN has been encouraging the Government to include small businesses in light of the benefits participation in the scheme would bring for both the environment and the businesses themselves.”

Not all good

However, John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said businesses with fewer than 250 employees should be exempt.

He said: “Many small businesses choose to put in place voluntary measures to limit the number of plastic bags they give out and we believe encouraging this kind of approach is the best way forward for small firms.”

Retail Express Shaz Naz said he has charged 5p a plastic bag for the last three years and that it’s a great way to give something back to the community.

The retailer, who is refitting his store in Hollingworth under a Premier fascia over the coming weeks, said: “All proceeds from our plastic bag charges go to the primary school across the road from us. I’ve given them a couple of thousand pounds so far.”

The tax is already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland, with proceeds going to charity. Data shows there has been an 80% reduction in plastic bag use since the levy was introduced.

Retailers in Scotland will start charging for bags in October 2014, and England is set to follow suit after the General Election in 2015.