A fund of up to quarter of a billion pounds to help support councils to deliver better, more environmentally friendly weekly bin collections for residents is now open, Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced today (3 February 2012).
In September last year the government announced its intention to introduce a new weekly collection support scheme for councils that retain or reinstate weekly residual waste and recycling services. The new scheme will deliver benefits to the environment and taxpayers.
Ministers believe that waste services have become too complex, leaving residents anxious about following the rules and possible penalties. They think councils should focus on 3 things:
- better weekly collections
- better contracts
- better use of innovative ideas or technology that help residents to recycle more and do their bit for the environment
The scheme is additional funding to local government, financed from savings made to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s central budget.
The new fund will help support reward schemes (for example, those like Windsor and Maidenhead’s Recyclebank scheme and Birmingham’s Nectar points scheme), where families are rewarded for recycling, delivering on a Coalition Agreement pledge.
It also explicitly intends to tackle ‘bin blight’ and the proliferation of bins, by supporting new technology where possible.
The fund will promote innovation, better procurement and joint working across local authorities. It intends to support a range of local initiatives to increase recycling and deliver weekly collections. It will seek to prioritise bids which support comprehensive weekly rubbish and recycling collections.
Mr Pickles said:
“Rubbish collections are the most visible service that people get for their £120 a month Council Tax bill. But barmy bin rules have made putting out your rubbish more complicated than solving a Rubik’s cube. The public are fed up of all the bin do’s and bin don’ts.
“People just want a comprehensive service in return for their Council Tax, which is why this government is working with councils to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish and recycling collections.
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:
“We want to help people to go green by making it easier for them to do the right thing. This scheme will encourage councils to provide the services we believe residents really want, without sacrificing the environment.”
Matthew Farrow, the Environmental Services Association’s Director of Policy, added:
“Waste management companies want to collect and manage waste in ways which are both user friendly for the householder and benefit the environment. So we welcome the way in which the fund prioritises environmental criteria and services that meet the needs of householders.
“We also support the encouragement given to local authorities to think innovatively and to work with the private sector. We look forward to working with their local authority customers to help them make best use of the opportunities the fund provides.”
A wide range of councils have signalled their informal interest in the scheme since September. Today a prospectus explaining how to apply is being published. Councils should submit an expression of interest by mid March, with initial bids sent in May and full bids by August. Councils will be able to bid individually or front bids with public and private sector delivery partners. Funding bids will be evaluated on how well they meet 3 criteria:
- delivering a weekly collection service to residents
- delivering value for money
- delivering improved environmental benefit
The government announced in last June’s Waste Review a series of measures to make life easier for the householder. It has already:
- scrapped plans to introduce new bin taxes with provisions through the Localism Act
- reversed Audit Commission guidance and inspections which marked down councils who do not adopt fortnightly rubbish collections
- abolished local area agreements imposed by Whitehall which created perverse incentives to downgrade waste collection services
The government has committed to reducing waste and accelerating recycling rates by focusing on rewards incentives that encourage recycling. A government scheme to encourage councils and other organisations to test out innovative reward and recognition schemes is now in place.
A consultation has been launched to stop council’s imposing unfair ‘bin fines’ of up to £1,000 on households for breaches of confusing bin rules.
A recent Sauce-Icaro Attitudes to Waste Survey found that 67% of people agreed with the statement ‘the Government should mandate weekly collections’. Weekly collections had higher satisfaction levels than fortnightly (83% v 74%). Reports of problems with flies and smells for fortnightly collections was more that double that for weekly (14% v 6%).
The average band D Council Tax bill in England is £1,439 a year (an average of £120 a month).