Small independent retailers are disappointed that the government has continued to exclude them from its plans for a levy on carrier bags, following a House of Commons Committee debate, according to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN).

After deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s pledge to remove all exemptions last week, and the NFRN efforts to demonstrate to government that small businesses across the board want to be included in the levy, the NFRN said it feels let down that the government has continued with its original course of action.

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter said: “The NFRN is not alone in wanting small businesses to be included in the levy. Small businesses can see the benefit to the environment in Wales and Scotland and want the opportunity to be involved in the scheme in England.

“By introducing a levy with so many caveats, consumers will be confused. The government has stated that small retailers can still apply the levy voluntary, however this is likely to cause more administrative hassle for businesses as the money would be seen as profit and as such would be subject to tax.

“The debate saw many MPs agree with our position, yet the minister disregarded the comments, ignoring the calls of the small business industry.”

The legislation applies to businesses with more than 250 employees; the government has stated that small businesses are being excluded to avoid burdening them with administration.