Press release: MP criticises decision of Sainsbury’s not to offer bagless deliveries

Edinburgh East MP Sheila Gilmore today criticised Sainsbury’s policy of charging an additional 40p for every online delivery to cover the cost of carrier bags, without providing the option of a bagless delivery for customers.

Following the recent introduction of a carrier bag charge in Scotland, Sainsbury’s are now charging an additional 40p for every online delivery. The guidance set out by Zero Waste Scotland, an organisation which is funded by the Scottish Government, clearly states that supermarkets should provide the option of a bagless delivery. Sheila Gilmore MP recently wrote to the Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, Mike Coupe, asking him to comment on this. In his response, Mr Coupe confirmed that Sainsbury’s customers will have to pay an obligatory 40p charge for carrier bags during every online shop.

Sheila Gilmore said:

It is disappointing that Sainsbury’s have chosen not to follow the guidance set out by Zero Waste Scotland, and offer bagless deliveries for online deliveries.

The mandatory 40p charge for every online customer will particularly impact upon elderly and disabled people who are dependent upon online shopping. This is worrying at a time of austerity and squeezed living standards.

While I welcome the recent introduction of a carrier bag charge in Scotland for environmental reasons, it is entirely wrong that customers are being forced to pay this charge. The policy was designed to decrease dependence on carrier bags, not to enforce compulsory charges on hard-pressed individuals and families.

I would now like to see Sainsbury’s – as other supermarkets have done – work towards introducing a bagless delivery option for Scottish customers.

Notes:

  • Zero Waste Scotland’s Guidance for Retailers document, which states the need for shopping websites “to offer bag-less deliveries or require customers to actively choose whether to purchase chargeable bags for delivery.” The document can be found here.
  • In the response sent to Sheila Gilmore MP from the Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, Mike Coupe, Mr Coupe states that ‘we are aware of the preferred options regarding online deliveries as per Zero Waste Scotland’s guidance accompanying the regulations, however we do not believe that we are contravening the regulations by not currently offering a bagless delivery.’
  • Other supermarkets, including ASDA, Tesco and Waitrose provide the option of bagless deliveries for online shopping.
  • For more information please contact Matt Brennan on 07742 986 513 or email matthew.brennan@parliament.uk.
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Christmas Break

My Constituency Office will be closed for the Christmas break from 4.30pm on Tuesday, 23rd December 2014.  The office will reopen at 9.30am on Monday, 5th January 2015. During this time phone calls and emails to my staff will not be answered.

If your enquiry is urgent please email me at sheila.gilmore.mp@parliament.uk.

May I take the opportunity to wish all my constituents a peaceful festive break.

Best wishes

Sheila

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Home truths for new First Minister

In today’s Edinburgh Evening News I’ve called on Nicola Sturgeon to use the Scottish Government’s new borrowing powers to boost investment in building affordable housing. The article is available on the paper’s website but I’ve reproduced it in full below.

Scotland’s Housing Crisis should be Nicola Sturgeon’s top priority.

When people hear the phrase housing crisis, they often think of beggars and rough sleeping. However the reality is often less dramatic but much more long-lasting.

Take my constituent John. In his 50s, he’s lived in the private rented sector since his marriage broke down ten years ago. He has neither central heating nor double glazing. His flat was built by the council but was sold off under the right to buy. After changing hands several times, the current landlord now charges double the rent of a similar flat in the same block that remains in council hands.

John’s wages from short-term agency work in the construction industry don’t cover his rent, so he depends on Housing Benefit to make up the shortfall.

He knows he could pay his own way in a council or housing association let but he has next to no chance of being awarded one as he already has a tenancy.

Across Edinburgh, this is an increasingly common problem. Vacancies in the council and housing association sector have halved over the last year or two. Since the summer there have been fewer than 50 available most weeks. And while the council and housing associations completed 1,285 units last year, half were mid-market rent – where a 2-bed property would cost around £600 per month compared with council rent of £400 – and a further quarter low-cost home ownership.

By attempting to get the most out of much-reduced Scottish Government funding, Edinburgh has ended up building affordable housing that, for many, simply isn’t affordable. As a result, waiting times for those who need low-rent homes are growing.

Tackling this issue should be Nicola Sturgeon’s top priority.

The Scottish Government will gain more borrowing and tax-varying powers as a result of the Scotland Act 2012, and these are set to be enhanced once the recommendations of the Smith Commission are put into law after the next General Election.

If these were used to channel extra funds into low-rent affordable house building, this would put downward pressure on rents and push down the Housing Benefit bill.

Unfortunately there was not a mention of this issue in Nicola Sturgeon’s programme for government. And there was next to no increase for affordable housing in John Swinney’s pre-budget statement for 2015/16 – the first year the new borrowing powers could be used.

During the referendum the SNP argued that they needed independence to create a fairer and more equal society. Now that Scottish voters have rejected this option, they should now use the powers of a strengthened Scottish Parliament to invest in affordable housing, so that people like John can pay their own way while living in decent quality homes.

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