Planning ahead for extreme weather

As our excitement for Christmas begins to build, so too does the prospect of plummeting temperatures and weather warnings hampering, hindering or halting us as we struggle to work.

If extreme weather hits the UK this winter, school closures, train delays and vehicle breakdowns will make it a struggle for staff to get to the workplace. Last year, the ‘Beast from the East’ created a predicted £1bn loss to the UK economy.

Of course businesses can’t control the weather, but they can prepare for it by putting the correct processes in place. So what rules should businesses follow if their workers can’t make it into the office and what are the rights of employees?

Schools out

If a school is closed, then parents can take ‘dependent leave’. The parent is expected to use this time not to look after their child, but find alternative child care.

However, many employers are flexible in these circumstances and will allow employees to take holiday at short notice, make the time up on another day or, if appropriate, work from home.

Travelling troubles

If the bad weather prevents you getting into work then essentially your employer does not have to pay you as it is your responsibility to make it into your workplace. The only exception to this would be if your employer provides transport for you and this is cancelled.

Employers may allow workers to request time off as part of their annual leave or work from home. Employers should not force or put pressure on employees to attempt the journey if there are safety warnings against travelling.

However, if your boss decides to close your workplace then you will still get paid. If you are on a zero hours contract though, or your employer has a contractual right to decline to offer you work at short notice, they may not have to pay you.

Also, if there is advance notice of bad weather, the employer could give notice to require employees to take their holiday.

Planning is key

Planning ahead of the arrival of adverse weather is essential to ensure disruption is minimised.  Businesses should act now to put processes in place before briefing workers on situation specific procedures. Doing so will help to maximise both staff safety and company productivity until clearer skies return.

Lisa Kennery, Payroll Manager


Hot summer results shine on glamping firm’s business forecast

Luxury glamping company Ribble Valley Glamping Ltd is celebrating a successful first year and a great start to the summer thanks to the hot weather and financial support from accountancy firm Pierce.

The family business, which trades as Wigwam® Holidays Ribble Valley, opened in October 2017 and has seen sales ramp up in the past two months with guests booking last minute spontaneous trips to enjoy the recent hot weather.

The franchise caught the eye of businessman John Brewer two years ago when he saw the glamping cabins at a trade show. Together with his wife Anne, daughter Jane McDonnell and her husband Martyn, the family have brought luxury en-suite glamping to Lancashire’s Ribble Valley.

The site currently has six cabins, with the directors looking for funding to invest in two more to meet the demand from holidaymakers wanting a getaway in the heart of Lancashire.

Company director Martyn said: “We’ve worked really hard to get this business up and running and have done most things ourselves from laying the groundworks to landscaping the site.

“The cabins are packed with amenities including two double beds, shower and toilet, fully fitted kitchen, TV and DVD player with outdoors table and chairs, firepit and BBQ set.

“The site also has an on-site shop that stocks most of the things that tend to be forgotten with a few treats like marshmallows. There is also a supply of fresh milk from a local milking parlour.

“Our business goal is to provide excellent customer service so our guests have a fantastic holiday and we’re delighted to have 5* ratings from Facebook and Google reviews.”

John, a long-standing client of Pierce for his portfolio of businesses, enlisted the accountancy firm to help with the new family venture.

Pierce has been advising the company on corporate structure, funding and VAT, and will help to run the firm’s payroll and maximise tax reliefs.

Mark Walmsley, associate director at Pierce, said: “We are delighted to help a long-established client with their new family venture. It is a brilliant business idea and who could resist staying in such stunning surrounds.

“The business has got off to a tremendous start and we look forward to working with the company as it continues to grow and becomes the go to place for holidaymakers in Lancashire.”

Quality is the key to success in care home provision

Ensuring the provision of quality care for the UK’s ageing demographic is a significant priority for society.

We are living for longer but that does not mean that we will live our later lives independently of the support of others. Care homes, or support enabling people to live independently in their own homes, will become increasingly vital.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the body charged with ensuring the highest possible standards among care home operators and care providers.

It sets standards that must be adhered to and encourages providers to strive for continuous improvement.

For that, we should all be grateful. But recent events have proven how difficult care provision is, with many large care companies experiencing operating difficulties due, in part, to the cost of providing what is an inherently expensive service if done properly.

Care homes exist within a complicated funding environment; residential care could be paid for by a local authority or by a private individual.

Whatever the funding model, the fact remains that care homes are generally privately-owned businesses with the same powers at play as any other enterprise.

However, the vulnerable nature of their customer base makes them unlike any other business.

The UK is blessed with many exemplary care homes, but the latest research from the CQC  shows room for improvement.

“It appears to be increasingly difficult for some providers to deliver the safe, high-quality and compassionate care people deserve and have every right to expect,” Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC, told the Daily Telegraph.

But there are examples of “good” and “outstanding” care homes across Lancashire and the North West, a number of them operated by Pierce clients, including Springhill Care Home in Accrington, and Altham Care Home in Clayton-le-Moors, Accrington.

Supporting companies operating in the care sector requires special expertise and Pierce is proud of its experience in that regard, supporting care providers in seeking development capital, merger and acquisition advice or succession planning.

The values of those care providers who will support society in future reflect our own.

Providing a quality service now and in future will be key in satisfying both the business needs of a care home and the exacting standards set by the CQC, loved ones and local authorities alike.

Providing care for our elderly is perhaps one of the most important investments any of us will make. We would be only too happy to share the wealth of our experience with people already operating within the sector, or considering it as a business opportunity.

Lancashire firms warned about the dangers of preparing for school holidays

As the excitement among children for the six-week summer holiday builds, the enthusiasm may not be shared by parents and employers who are frantically trying to work out the logistics for childcare.

According to research from Direct Line for Business the six-week summer holidays cost home businesses alone £658 million a year. The increase in leave requests creates an annual problem for companies of balancing a happy workforce with meeting the needs of the business.

Simon Diggle, Associate Director at Pierce Chartered Accountants provides his top tips to businesses to efficiently manage staff during the summer.

Length of leave

Employers can allow workers to have three weeks off at any one time, but they will need to ensure enough staff members are available to cover them. If there isn’t, they have the right to refuse the leave-but businesses need to ensure that they are consistent when approving holiday leave. To prevent any disgruntled employees, businesses should have a policy regarding when holidays can be taken and how many people can be off at any one time.

Refusing holiday requests

Although employees have a statutory right to annual leave, the company can dictate when it can be taken. Employers can set the times for when workers take their leave, most commonly at Christmas with some Lancashire businesses still operating a summer shut down. Employers can prevent people taking leave during busy periods.

When childcare arrangements fall through

Sometimes childcare arrangements break down, when they do, employers have a legal right to provide reasonable time off for dependants. This is normally unpaid and would expect to last between one or two days. Employers could suggest the use of annual leave or special leave which the company may allow with pay.

Flexible working

Parents of children aged 16 and under can request flexible working during the summer holidays. This can consist of part-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, staggered hours, working from home or term-time only working.

Employers are obliged to consider this and can only reject the application if there is a good business reason. A new work pattern needs to be agreed, once confirmed, it will permanently change the terms and conditions of the employment.

Does travel delay=pay?

During the busy summer period, travel delays do happen and there are no legal rights for employers to pay for any missed days. The result of this depends on your contract, some businesses may have contractual arrangements in place for this and provide discretionary pay for travel disruption.

Planning is key

Planning ahead during the summer months is the key to business success. If members of your accounts team are off, ensure that invoices are still processed on time to prevent payment delays as this could damage your reputation and credit rating. If the person in charge of payroll is away, organise for someone else to manage it in their absence to guarantee that staff members will be paid on time.

Pierce puts Lancashire mumpreneur in the driving seat with PLUSH business

Pierce chartered accountants has helped to put entrepreneur and working mum Susie Wilson in the driving seat of a new business manufacturing luxury leather car accessories for kids.

The Blackburn-based accountancy and business advisory group provided tax and trademarking advice enabling Susie to launch PLUSH, which designs bespoke children’s car seats for use in exclusive marques, including BMW, Porsche and Mercedes.

Pierce has worked with Susie for a number of years while she was financial director at DH Stainless in Accrington and the partnership continued when she established her own venture.

Based in Clitheroe, Lancashire, PLUSH was launched at The London Motor Show 2017 in May. The company is currently in discussions with BMW Germany, Porsche and a number of luxury car dealerships about becoming stockists.

Susie said: “I have a BMW Z4 and when I was looking for a car seat for my six-year-old daughter, I realised there were no seats to match the interior in my car. I’ve always been car mad and have an eye for fashion and design so when I discovered the gap in the market, the idea for PLUSH was born.

“I use Pierce for my accounts but they have provided me with so much more than that – they are a source of help and a voice of reason. I am a chartered accountant so I have good financial knowledge but Pierce were able to help me beyond my expertise with advice on tax and trademarking.”

Jane Smith, associate director at Pierce, said: “Susie is very entrepreneurial and Pierce is really proud to be supporting her exciting new business venture.

“Our work with PLUSH covers accounts, providing specialist tax advice and trademarking support. Our expert team has a wide range of skills, meaning we can help start-up companies and SMEs with every financial aspect of their business.

“We look forward to seeing the success of PLUSH unfold in the near future as it is such a unique enterprise.”

Peoples Pension Auto Enrolment News

Peoples Pension Auto Enrolment News

From:  Lisa Kennery

The People’s Pension is launching a new full support automatic enrolment pension solution for small businesses on 23 November. The solution has been developed based on extensive research with small businesses and their business advisers and financial advisers.

What they’re offering

Peoples Pension Logo

Patrick Heath-Lay, Chief Executive Officer at B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension, said:

“We’ll be charging a one off set up charge only, and will not be charging employers for ongoing support.

The People’s Pension launches the ‘complete package’ for small employers


November 5, 2015 News

The People’s Pension has announced today that it will go live with an enhanced service and support package for new and existing customers on Monday 23 November.

  • Option to ‘Simply comply’ with a fast track route to legal compliance
  • Or to ‘Simply tailor’, putting employers and advisers in control for a bespoke experience
  • Enhanced payroll support and extended opening hours with dedicated employer and adviser teams
  • We’ll even tell the regulator employers have complied

It will offer all new employers joining the scheme the complete package to meet their auto-enrolment (AE) needs – and has been specifically designed to support small employers as they start to stage from January 2016.

New employers will be able to choose between two routes. The first, ‘Simply comply’, will guide them through a fast track process designed to help them comply as quickly and easily as possible. The second, ‘Simply tailor’, offers employers a more bespoke experience to cater for the individual needs of their workforce.

Both routes will offer a number of different payroll options, both manual and automatic. There’ll be a range of online tools and assessment options available – and The People’s Pension will even tell The Pensions Regulator that an employer has complied. Customer service hours are set to be extended too, to 8am-10pm from January 2016, to provide an extra helping hand at sign up.

The enhancements to the scheme’s award winning service and support follow extensive research with small employers and their advisers on what they need from a workplace pension provider. They also build on not-for-profit provider B&CE’s experience of providing pensions to small construction employers for more than three decades.

Patrick Heath-Lay, Chief Executive Officer at B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension, said:

“Workplace pensions can be alien to people outside the pensions industry. Our research and 30 years of experience working with small employers tells us that they want simple solutions and a great deal of support in meeting their auto-enrolment duties. Our doors will remain open to everyone who wants to come to us, regardless of their size and their sector.

“That’s why we’ve developed a simple, hassle free and high support solution for busy people who just want to run their business, not get bogged down in pensions. Simplicity is the key. We’re here to help small employers navigate the auto-enrolment galaxy.”

Employers with a staging date of January 2016 onwards who sign up with The People’s Pension from Monday 23 November will pay a one off set up charge of £500 + VAT for all the support they’ll need for the life of the scheme. Employers with a 2015 staging date who sign up from Friday 1 January onwards will also be charged.

There will be no ongoing charges for employers, and the low annual management charge of 0.5% for members will remain. Employers signing up through an intermediary will pay a reduced charge of £300 + VAT.

Heath-Lay continued:

“We’ll be charging a one off set up charge only, and will not be charging employers for ongoing support.

“Our focus is on putting savers first. We don’t believe in frontloading member charges to cover the cost of supporting employers.

“That’s why we are introducing this charge. We want to make sure that we can keep delivering award-winning customer service and support to new and existing customers, and keep our member charges low.

“We know that small employers feel daunted by auto-enrolment. For the one off set up charge, we will make complying with the law easy, straight-forward, and stress free for small employers.”


Protect Your Business

Protect Your Business – Free Business Crime Conference

The event is free to attend although you need to register.


Protect your business

Information from :

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce · Red Rose Court, Clayton Business Park · Clayton-Le-Moors · Accrington, Lancashire BB5 5JR · United Kingdom



This free conference brings you the latest information and practical advice to help you protect your business, your employees and your property.

The event has been developed in partnership with key business support organisations and will be opened by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, who is committed to engaging with the business community to tackle the impact of crime on the local economy



  • Cyber crime and fraud and how to deal with it if it happens to your business.
  • Crime prevention advice from Lancashire Constabulary and what you can do to better protect yourself, your business, your property, your staff and your data. Business Crime Survey outcomes.


  • Ensure your business is well protected.
  • Learn about new innovative approaches being developed to tackle the emerging threats to businesses.
  • Work in partnership with other organisations to tackle business crime.

Network with other business owners, business support providers and event organisers.



10 November 2015: 9.00 am – 1.15 pm

The Best Western Leyland Hotel, Leyland Way, Leyland, PR25 4JX

The event is free to attend although you need to register.

Lunch will be provided.


Fit for Work

Fit for Work

How employers can prepare for Fit for Work

News compiled from

By: Lisa Kennery

GPs and employers throughout England and Wales can now refer their employed patients and employees who have been, or are likely to be, off sick from work for four weeks or more for a voluntary occupational health assessment.

Fit for Work is now available for employers up and down the country, meaning that they can refer staff who have been off work sick for four weeks or more to the service. The service is aimed at supporting workers in SMEs to plug the gap in occupational health advice and support provision – as around 70% of employees in England and Wales don’t have access to occupational health and advice.

Fit for Work is predicted to cut sick pay costs to business by £80 million, to £165 million a year. This means that it is something businesses can’t afford to miss out on taking advantage of. Those wanting to use the service often find it good practice to include Fit for Work in their in-house HR policy, and build it into their procedures for dealing with sickness absence.

Employers wanting further advice about referring employees on long-term sickness absence can call the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235 to speak to a dedicated advisor.

Employees who consent to being referred to Fit for Work will be invited for a telephone assessment by a Fit for Work occupational health professional. This assessment aims to identify all potential obstacles preventing employees from returning to work (including health, work and personal factors). Where appropriate, a Return to Work Plan will be agreed between the advisor and employee.

While aiming to plug the gap in occupational health advice and support for SMEs, Fit for Work can also work alongside existing occupational health provision as it focuses on many different aspects preventing an employee’s return to work, including social and financial factors.

Desk and Lamp

The occupational health professional will identify obstacles preventing the employee from returning to work. A Return to Work Plan will be agreed providing recommendations tailored to the employee’s needs, which can replace the need for a fit note.

How to prepare for making Fit for Work referrals

  • Clarify what existing support you already have in place for employees on long-term sick leave and update your HR policy to accept the Fit for Work Return to Work Plans. (For help with updating your absence and HR policies, see the CIPD guidelines.)
  • Invite eligible employees in for a discussion about Fit for Work, and refer employees (with their consent) using the employer referral form.
  • Spread the word about Fit for Work within your organisation or on your website using some of our online resources (see the employer toolkit for a collection of useful materials available for your use).

Press Releases

New return-to-work service opens to employers today

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Each year around 865,000 employee absences in England and Wales last for four weeks or more1. 74% of employers in England and Wales feel that if they had more external…

New return to work service goes live to help GPs, employees and employers across England

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A new support service, designed to help working people who face long-term sickness absence return to work more quickly, is now available across the whole of England. The free and…

Employer Roadshow

The scheme is set to affect employers up and down the country, with businesses now beginning to refer their employees to Fit for Work. The events, to be held across England and Wales, will be looking at what these changes mean from a policy and business perspective.

Events will be taking place in:

If you are interested in attending, please email your name and the event you wish to attend to (for England) or (for Wales).

Suitable for:

Business Membership Organisations, Business Member Organisations, Employment Relations Specialists, Employee Representatives, MDs / CEOs, Trade Unions, Health and Wellbeing Boards, Occupational Health Specialists


HIVE Event Invitation

HIVE Event Invitation – to all businesses in Blackburn with Darwen

Hive event-invite1

Calling all of the borough’s businesses!

You are invited to join us on:

Thursday 8th October 2015 (registration from 10:00am)

For the launch of BwD Hive C.I.C

A new Community Interest Company designed to further the objectives of the original Hive business leaders’ network, and ensure that all businesses within the borough, large and small, have the opportunity to play their part.

Any businesses wishing to register their interest in attending the Hive event on Thursday, October 8 can do so via the Hive website here

With the help of Hive, business is buzzing in the borough.

Hive Event

New investors are in town too and we’re delighted to confirm that our keynote speaker at the launch will be Creative Director and fashion designer Patrick Grant.

A passion for clothing, craftsmanship and British brands led Patrick to Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons which he took over in 2005.

In 2009 Patrick re-launched the historic British sporting and military tailoring house of E. Tautz.

In 2013 he launched Hammond & Co in the UK in partnership with Debenhams.

In 2015, Patrick took the helm at Blackburn-based Cookson and Clegg.

As a borough with a proud textile and manufacturing heritage, C&C have been producing clothing in Blackburn since 1860 making them one of the longest serving UK clothing manufacturers.

Patrick is a regular on the BBC both on television and radio, including the major documentaries Savile Row, Harris Tweed, and The Perfect Suit, and the on-going BBC2 Series The Great British Sewing Bee.

To register your interest in attending, please contact us here. Don’t forget to join the Hive network too if you’re not already a member.

About HIVE

Hive was first launched in 2012 with the aim of turning Blackburn with Darwen into a world-class business area.

Since then, 250 local organisations from micro to multinational have pledged their support; we’ve had recognition of Hive’s role in improving the local business environment (Enterprising Britain Awards, 2014); we’ve hosted leading figures from within industry and we’ve celebrated the very best of business via the inaugural Hive Business Awards.

Despite a new CiC structure, the aims of Hive remain the same and are underpinned by the town’s famous motto of arte at labore – by skill and hard work.

With a proud history of manufacturing and making, we want to continue to raise the profile of Blackburn with Darwen, locally and across the wider UK, as a great place to do business; we want to attract more investment; we want to create new and long-lasting partnerships amongst local business leaders which help the borough to prosper and improve opportunities for residents – especially our young people.

Any businesses wishing to register their interest in attending the Hive event on Thursday, October 8 can do so via the Hive website here

Khalid Saifullah, Chair of the Hive Network and Director of Star Tissue UK



Carrier Bag Charges – Retailers Responsibilities

Iceland carrier bags

Carrier bag charges: retailers’ responsibilities

Iceland has opened a new store in Accrington and this has reminded us that there is a matter that needs to be brought to the attention of retailers –

Carrier bag charges begin in England on 5 October 2015 as part of the policy to reduce waste.


Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Charges for single-use plastic carrier bags and Waste and recycling

Applies to:

England (see detailed guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)

Find out when large retailers need to charge at least 5p for plastic carrier bags and the fines for not doing so.


  1. When you must charge
  2. When the reporting year runs
  3. Bags you charge for
  4. Returnable multiple reuse bags
  5. Bags you don’t charge for
  6. What retailers have to do
  7. Sending records to Defra
  8. Who inspects retailers
  9. When retailers will be fined
  10. See more like this

Carrier bag charges begin in England on 5 October 2015 as part of the policy to reduce waste.

If you’re a large retailer the minimum price is 5p for most single-use plastic carrier bags. If you’re a small or medium-sized business you don’t have to charge, but you’re free to do so voluntarily.

If you’re already charging 5p or more for bags you don’t need to charge an extra 5p.

When you must charge

You must charge if you employ 250 or more full-time equivalent employees (in total and not just in retail roles). The number of full-time equivalent employees is the number of total hours contracted to work by all employees divided by the number of hours worked by a single full-time employee. A full-time staff member who worked all year counts as 1 employee. Part-time and seasonal staff, and those who did not work the full year, are counted as fractions of 1 employee.

You must charge if you:

  • sell goods in England
  • deliver goods to England

People with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees don’t have to charge. If your store is part of a franchise or symbol group (sharing a brand and products) you only count employees in your business. You don’t count the franchise or symbol group as a whole.

For example, if you own 10 stores in a symbol group and have more than 250 employees in total, you’ll have to charge for carrier bags. But if you’re part of a symbol group and own 2 stores with 15 employees, you don’t have to charge.

When you count employee numbers

You capture how many full-time equivalent employees you have at the start of each reporting year.

When the reporting year runs

The reporting year runs from:

  • 5 October 2015 to 6 April 2016
  • 7 April to 6 April from 2016 onwards

Bags you charge for

A bag is considered as such if it has an opening and isn’t sealed. You must charge at least 5p a bag for carrier bags that are all of the following:

  • unused – it’s new and hasn’t been used previously for sold goods to be taken away or delivered
  • plastic
  • with handles
  • 70 microns thick or less

Charging for delivery bags

You should consider offering customers bagless deliveries, as you must charge for plastic bags used for deliveries and online sales. You don’t have to charge for sealed packaging as this isn’t covered by the charge.

The number of bags used isn’t always known until delivery takes place. This means you can charge for an average number of bags for multi-bag deliveries, as long as 5p or more is charged per bag overall.

Charges apply to both home deliveries and click-and-collect (or similar) collections.

Returnable multiple reuse bags

A returnable multiple reuse bag must be all of the following:

  • sold for 5p or more
  • replaced free of charge if returned to you
  • 50 to 70 microns thick – you can count thinner bags as reusable as long as they’re thicker than your single-use bags and the handles are at least 50 microns thick
  • at least 404mm (in either width or height) by 439mm

You can’t count the following in your bag’s dimensions:

  • gussets
  • handles – unless they’re on wavy top bags

Bags you don’t charge for

You don’t charge for plastic bags that are:

  • for uncooked fish and fish products
  • for uncooked meat, poultry and their products
  • for unwrapped food for animal or human consumption – for example, chips, or food sold in containers not secure enough to prevent leakage during normal handling
  • for unwrapped loose seeds, flowers, bulbs, corns, rhizomes (roots, stems and shoots, such as ginger) or goods contaminated by soil (such as potatoes or plants)
  • for unwrapped blades, including axes, knives, and knife and razor blades
  • for prescription medicine
  • for live aquatic creatures in water
  • woven plastic bags
  • for goods in transport, such as at an airport or on a train, plane or ship
  • considered as sealed packaging for mail order and click-and-collect orders (regardless of handles)
  • returnable multiple reuse bags (bags for life)
  • used to give away free promotional material
  • used for a service but there’s no sale of goods, such as dry cleaning or shoe repairs

A bag can contain multiple items from this list and not incur a charge. However, if the bag contains other items then you must charge. For example, you wouldn’t charge for a bag containing an unwrapped blade and unwrapped loose seeds, but adding a box of cornflakes means you’d have to charge.

Super biodegradable bags

There are no exemptions for biodegradable bags at present. However, the government is considering an exemption to encourage development of a new, genuinely biodegradable, more environmentally friendly bag. This would be introduced as an amendment at a later date.

Defra has commissioned a review of existing industry standards for biodegradability of lightweight plastics. It will review whether there are standards that could be used to introduce an exemption from the charge and, if so, how the exemption would be carried out. Defra has to submit the report to Parliament by 5 October 2015.

What retailers have to do

For every bag that you charge for, you must:

  • charge at least 5p a bag (including any VAT)
  • make every effort to ensure that you’re charging for self-checkout bags
  • keep a reporting year’s records for 3 years from 31 May in the following reporting year (eg you must keep the records for 5 October 2015 to 6 April 2016 until 31 May 2019)
  • send records to Defra on or before 31 May following the end of the reporting year

You must also record for the whole reporting year:

  • the number of bags supplied
  • the gross and net proceeds of the charge
  • any VAT in the gross proceeds
  • what you did with the proceeds from the charge
  • any reasonable costs and how they break down

Reasonable costs

Reasonable costs include new costs incurred to comply with the legislation. This might include:

  • the cost of changing till systems
  • training staff
  • communicating the policy to staff and customers
  • getting expert advice
  • administering donations to good causes

You can’t include existing costs, such as the cost of the bags. You’re likely to see reasonable costs significantly reduce after the first year.

Dealing with the proceeds

Once you’ve deducted reasonable costs, it’s expected that you’ll donate all proceeds to good causes.

Carrier Bag Charges Wales has examples of how good causes have benefited from the proceeds of the Welsh charge, and expected reductions in carrier bag use.

Sending records to Defra

You must send the following details to Defra once a year:

  • the number of bags you distributed
  • the amount of money you received from selling bags
  • any VAT you had to pay from the money you received
  • what you did with the proceeds from bags
  • details of the ‘reasonable costs’ you had to pay to provide bags

This information will be made public.

You must send these details for each reporting period by 31 May the following year. For example, for the period 5 October 2015 to 6 April 2016 you must send your details by 31 May 2017.

You must send your name and email to If you send your name and email before the deadline you’ll get advice on how to report, and get reminders about when to report.

Responding to public enquiries

Members of the public can request copies of carrier bag records. You must provide copies within 28 days.

Getting records of enforcement action

Your local authority publishes a report on its website for the preceding recording year on or before 31 May, and keeps the report until 30 May of the next reporting year. It will publish the number of cases and sanctions it served or opposed, along with objections and appeals.

If you trade across different regions of the UK, you can apply for a Primary Authority agreement. This means you can choose to deal with just one local authority rather than deal with the authorities in each area you trade in.

Who inspects retailers

In most cases it’s the local authority where your shop or store is based that makes sure that the law is being followed.

However, for home deliveries the relevant local authority is the one where the goods are:

  • dispatched from, if sent and delivered within England
  • received, if delivered from outside England

Local authority inspectors can visit stores at reasonable times and make test purchases. They can question staff and demand relevant documentation if they believe a breach has taken place.

When retailers will be fined

Your local authority must publish details of fine levels and circumstances on its website. It can fine you if you:

  • don’t charge at least 5p for the appropriate bags
  • don’t keep records
  • don’t supply records
  • mislead on how you’re complying with the law

Local authorities can:

  • issue a non-compliance notice with steps you must take to correct a breach
  • impose a fixed penalty
  • impose a discretionary penalty
  • order you to advertise that you’ve broken the law, what their penalty was and how you are now complying
  • recover the cost of the investigation from you if you breach the law

Both fixed and variable fines are:

  • reduced by 50% if you pay within 28 days
  • increased by 50% if you don’t pay within 56 days

Local authorities can’t impose a variable fine if a fixed fine has already been levied for the same issue (unless a non-compliance notice has been issued).

Publicity if retailers break the law

Local authorities can impose non-monetary requirements, such as making you publicise that you’ve breached the law.

Failure to comply can lead to a fine of up to £5,000, in addition to any other penalties.

Fixed penalties

Breach Penalty
Not charging for bags appropriately £200
Not keeping records £100
Not supplying records £100

Variable penalties

Breach Maximum penalty
Not charging for bags appropriately £5,000
Not keeping records £5,000
Not supplying records £5,000
Giving false or misleading information to, or otherwise obstructing or failing to assist the local authority £20,000

Appeals and objections

You can object within 28 days of being issued a penalty notice.

You can appeal a penalty if you feel it was wrong, unreasonable or based on an error. You can also appeal if you feel that the non-monetary requirement is unreasonable or if the variable amount penalty is too high.

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23 March 2015


Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Part of:

Charges for single-use plastic carrier bags

Waste and recycling