Written statement to Parliament

Written answer to parliamentary question on household waste collection

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Written answer to parliamentary question asked by Lord Greaves on the government's Weekly Collection Support Scheme.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which local authorities in England have taken part in the Weekly Collection Support Scheme; how many authorities took part in the expression of interest process; which have subsequently received financial support, and how much; and of those, which have reinstated weekly collections of general (“grey” or “residual”) waste, which have used the support to collect food waste separately, and which have used it in other ways.

Lord Ahmad’s written answer

In March 2012, my department received initial expressions of interest from 151 lead local authorities, which resulted in bids from 113 local authorities. Some local authorities submitted multiple expressions of interest which were consolidated before final bid stage. The final bids were then assessed in line with the published criteria, and recipients then awarded funding.

A detailed table listing the schemes that are being supported is on my department’s website.

It may be helpful to the noble Lord to outline what this government has delivered since 2010:

  • safeguarded weekly collections for 6 million households through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme as well as championing innovation and best practice; the answer of 14 May 2014, Official Report, House of Commons 646W, outlined how 14 million households in England have some form of weekly collection of smelly rubbish

  • issued the first ever Whitehall guidance on weekly bin collections, demolishing the myths that fortnightly bin collections are needed to save money or increase recycling. This best practice was directly informed by the Weekly Collections Support Scheme

  • supported over 40 innovative reward schemes to back recycling through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme (as pledged in the Coalition Agreement) - the winning bids for a further Recycling Rewards Scheme for 2015 to 2016 will be announced shortly

  • stopped the Audit Commission inspections which marked down councils who do not adopt fortnightly rubbish collections, and rejected the Audit Commission guidance which advocated fortnightly collections (“Waste management: the strategic challenge and waste management quick guide”)

  • abolished the Local Area Agreements and National Indicator 191 imposed by Whitehall which created perverse incentives to downgrade waste collection services

  • scrapped the Whitehall requirement for municipal Annual Efficiency Statements, which allowed a reduction in the frequency of a household rubbish collection service to qualify as a “valid efficiency” and allowed revenue from bin fines to classed as a “cashable efficiency gain”

  • scrapped the imposition of eco-towns which would have had fortnightly bin collections and/or bin taxes as part of the “eco-standards”

  • through the Localism Act, revoked the 2008 legislation that allowed for the imposition of new bin taxes

  • issued guidance to stop the imposition of illegal ‘backdoor bin charging’ on households bins

  • stopped funding the ‘Waste Improvement Network’ which told councils to adopt fortnightly collections as best practice

  • challenged the incorrect interpretation by some bodies that European Union directives require fortnightly collections, and resisted the imposition of bin taxes by the European Union

  • removing powers of entry and snooping powers from bin inspectors and scrapped guidance telling councils to rifle through families’ bins

  • changed building regulations and planning guidance to tackle ‘bin blight’, and worked with the NHBC Foundation to produce new best practice guidance for house builders

  • changing the law through the Deregulation Bill to scrap unfair bin fines

Without our active support, ministers are clear that weekly collections would have disappeared across England.

This government’s approach can be contrasted with the devolved administration in Wales, where fortnightly bin collections are official policy, and pilots of monthly bin collections are being actively encouraged.

Published 17 February 2015