Tesco docks 'admin charges' from its bag tax charity fund

Hangs on to £3.4 million

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Tesco has sparked outrage by hanging onto millions of pounds from the charitable donations it's supposed to make through the 5p plastic bag charge.

Government statistics have revealed that the supermarket chain has been deducting 10% of the proceeds of the tax to cover 'administrative costs'.

It's the only major supermarket to do so.

The 5p charge for plastic bags was introduced in England two years ago; since then, their use has fallen by 83%. Supermarkets at the time were told that the proceeds were to be given to good causes.

But while Asda, Morrison, the Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Aldi, Iceland and Waitrose have all been handing over the full amount raised, Tesco has not.

Instead, of the £31.9 million it raised through the charge, it's hung on to £3.4 million.

See also: Tesco getting rid of 5p carrier bags

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Tesco is claiming that it's reasonable to keep the cash as it runs its scheme differently to most supermarkets, distributing some of the money to local causes through a charity called Groundwork.

Most of the money it's held back, it says, has gone to Groundwork, with some going to pay for voting booths in store that allow customers to help decide where the cash goes.

It recently stopped selling 5p bags at all - it now just offers 10p 'bags for life' - but says the money will be allocated the same way.

Legally, supermarkets can't be forced to hand over any of the money at all, so Tesco is in theory doing nothing wrong. However, Mary Creagh, chair of the environmental audit committee, believes it should be doing more to abide by the spirit of the law.

She is calling for Tesco - the UK's largest supermarket chain - to follow the example of its rivals and hand over the full amount.

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

"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."

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