10p plastic bag charge to cost shoppers over £1 billion

Embargoed: 00:01 Friday 21 May 2021


As the 10p plastic bag charge comes into effect today, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) has calculated the increased rate will cost consumers £1.03 billion over the next decade. 

As well as the 10p levy itself, shoppers face hidden costs like the increased use of paper bags and VAT paid on the charge. Together this is estimated to add around £45 to the cost of living for each household.

The charge, which was previously 5p and restricted to large retailers with over 250 employees, now applies to all shops in England from today. 

Many consumers have turned to online shopping during the pandemic, reducing the use of plastic bags. The higher charges may therefore not reflect already changed consumer behaviour, making it difficult to accurately judge the success of the new charge in reducing plastic bag use.


Table: estimated cost to consumers, £ million, 2021-30



Key findings:


  • Between 2021 and 2030, the 10p plastic bag charge in England is forecast to cost consumers £1.03 billion. This includes:
  • £797.8 million for the 10p charge
  • £159.7 million of additional VAT
  • £71.9 million for substitute bags for life and bin liners
  • £4.3 million of paper bags


Danielle Boxall, media campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"While the charge has helped cut down the use of carrier bags, it’s still shoppers paying the price. 

“Moving on from plastic bags will bring many benefits, but politicians cannot pretend this hasn’t hiked the cost of living for hard-pressed households.  

“The move to online shopping during the pandemic may do more for cutting carrier bag use than this new 10p charge.” 

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

Danielle Boxall
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at www.taxpayersalliance.com.

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. The TaxPayers’ Alliance previously found the 5p bag charge would cost consumers £1.5 billion between 2015-2024.
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