A radical plan to charge customers a fee every time they use a self-service checkout has been panned in the UK.
The bizarre suggestion was made by a parliamentary panel on social integration in England, with the group suggesting shoppers should be forced to pay one penny when they use machines instead of getting their groceries scanned by a cashier.
In a nutshell, those in favour of the tax argue Brexit negotiations have caused a “social divide” which has stopped people from different generations interacting with each other.
They believe discouraging self-check-outs could push customers and shop assistants into sparking conversations.
The panel is led by Chuka Umunna, a politician who left the UK’s Labour Party to found a new political party called Change UK.
A report on the concept argued the fee could “counteract potential damage caused by a lack of everyday contact between people” and could also raise £30 million ($A55.4 million) which would then be put towards various projects that support social inclusion.
But unsurprisingly, the idea has not been a hit with the public or interest groups, including UK supermarket trade body the British Retail Consortium.
“A new tax, particularly one that penalises modern shopping behaviour, will harm both consumers and retailers at a time when retailers are rightly focused on delivering the best value for shoppers,” The Sun reported representative Tom Ironside as saying.
Charge shoppers 1p to use self-checkout machines to heal Brexit divisions, say MPs – The Telegraph – WTF ! ! ! Piss off Change UK, are you flipping mad, all the projects you want this money to go to so far have all been failures. STOP TAXING US. https://t.co/p69DGjwp6x
— John Herdman (@HerdmanJohn) May 20, 2019
The proposal has also been slammed by members of the public, and has been variously described as “crazy” and “draconian” on social media.
However, Mr Umunna defended the idea, and argued Brexit had caused a significant rift among the public.
“We all know that Brexit has been incredibly divisive but what we have seen over the course of this inquiry suggests that generational division extends far beyond the realm of politics into our daily lives,” he said, according to the UK Telegraph.
MP Wera Hobhouse, who is also a member of the social integration group, said there were “many places where segregation is occurring in our society”.
“What we need to find are ways forward to improve relationships between young and old, and this interim report offers some interesting ideas in how we can do that,” she said.
The report also recommended a tax discount for people who do a minimum number of hours of volunteering each week, as well as a “Take Your Headphones Off Day” to encourage people to chat on public transport.
Originally published as ‘Crazy’ checkout fee plan slammed