Welsh Conservatives have slammed the official guidance available for small businesses on the carrier bag charge.
With just 18 days until the charge comes into effect, assistance regarding administration and record keeping has been branded ‘appalling’.
Guidance available at www.carrierbagchargewales.gov.uk appears to lack clarity when referring to the paperwork required from small business.
It initially claims ‘All retailers will have to keep accurate records about the charge and some retailers will need to publish these records’…
Before saying ‘…All sellers that employ 10 or more staff and charge for single use carrier bags are required by law to keep an accurate record for every reporting year. But retailers that do not have to keep records still need to charge for single use carrier bags’….
Before claiming retailers must maintain ‘…a system to keep records (only if you are required to keep records)’.
Shadow Minister for Business & Enterprise, Nick Ramsay AM, has asked the government to change the website and make administration for small businesses much clearer.
He said: “The website in question would be an invaluable resource for small businesses – if it made any sense.
“Instead - the guidelines for retailers employing fewer than 10 staff is appalling.
“The fact that VAT must be paid on the bag charge appears to have caused some late confusion. That begs the question – why wasn’t this guidance properly thought through months ago?
“There’s a big difference between needing to keep accurate records and not having to.
“There are eighteen days to go. I expect the Welsh Labour government to clarify the guidance and properly communicate it.”
Shadow Minister for Environment, Russell George AM, said:
“I have spoken to small businesses and many of them are completely unaware of the carrier bag charge and haven’t received any literature. Those that are aware remain very worried and uncertain. They’re not sure about the VAT situation and don’t know if they need to keep records.
“The original start date was delayed and it’s a shame the Welsh Government hasn’t used this time to properly inform businesses.
“There is real uncertainty amongst takeaway outlets in particular - which use small paper bags.
“It is obvious to me that businesses across Wales will be unknowingly breaking the law after October the first - as a result of an extremely poor awareness campaign by the Welsh Government.
“This website doesn’t help and it’s about time the government got itself organised.
“The principal of the charge is an excellent one and the benefits to the environment will be huge.
“However, it’s absolutely essential that small businesses - already piled under with paperwork – are made aware and have some clarity on this issue.”