The Federation of Small Businesses made a u-turn this week on its call for small businesses to be excluded from carrier bag charging - as the government announced it would plough ahead with the exemption.

FSB said it had “updated” its position after examining evidence from the ACS, BRC and NFRN, all of which are calling for small businesses to be included in the charge.

The FSB said it would now support a 5p charge, as long as the “regulatory burden” was addressed.

“Small retailers tell us that they’re happy to introduce the charge,” said FSB chairman John Allan. “It cuts costs and it raises money for good causes but the regulatory headache needs to be sorted out.”

The change in stance came after the government announced it would press ahead with plans to exempt small businesses when the charge comes into force in October 2015.

The government noted “some representative bodies are in favour of being included in the charge while others are opposed,” but said it must consider the “impact on consumers”. Small businesses are not exempt from charges in Wales, Ireland or Scotland.