News

Pharmacies still worried over Bag Tax

30/06/2011
Confusion still surrounds Welsh Government's "Bag Tax" scheme
 
Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), the recognised body responsible for representing all of Wales’ community pharmacies, has confirmed that it is in receipt of repeated requests for information from community pharmacies about the current position on the so called “bag tax”, - the compulsory charge on single use for carrier bags – due to be introduced this autumn.  At the moment legislation provides for the introduction of the charge on 1 October 2011.
 
CPW has written to the new Health Ministers saying "
 
“You will be aware that this measure is currently due to be imposed on all retailers in Wales, including community pharmacies, from 1 October this year. As it affects pharmacies and medicines CPW is clear that it is effectively a tax on healthcare in Wales. The Welsh Government's own estimate of the effect of the measure is that it will add to least £13 million a year to costs for shoppers in Wales, together with the cost to retail businesses.
CPW is firmly of the view that the "tax" will be particularly detrimental to pharmacies as a result of the confusion and frustration that will be caused by the incomprehensible distinction between prescription and over the counter medicines with the former being provided in a bag which is free and the latter being provided in a bag which is potentially chargeable.  Furthermore, it is unnecessary as a means of reducing waste as the successful reduction of use of harmful plastic carrier bags is already taking place through voluntary arrangements between retailers and customers. Guidance to retailers has still not been issued under the legislation and the publicity issued by the Welsh Government in April and May omitted any information for pharmacies and ignored the agreed exemption for some medicines. 
We were pleased to note that this was not one of the achievements celebrated by Welsh Labour in your manifesto as part of "Standing Up For Our Record". At this time of particular pressure on the high street, we would ask you and your fellow Ministers to consider changing the commencement arrangements for this proposal, so that while the legislation might remain on the Welsh statute book, it is not introduced this October and indeed not until such time as it can be shown that it is absolutely necessary for waste reduction and that, as far as pharmacies are concerned, would not be detrimental to healthcare or time spent with patients. "
 CPW is also writing to the new Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, Edwina Hart.
 We also draw your attention to the newly issued advice from HMRC on how to treat the charge for VAT and other tax purposes:
 
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