Tobacco tax ‘should help councils fund clean-up costs’

16 Mar 15

A proportion of tobacco duties should be given to local authorities to fund the cost of cleaning up cigarettes and other litter, the House of Commons’ communities and local government committee has recommended.

In a report examining how to tackle litter and fly tipping, MPs today highlighted that litter levels in England have barely improved over the last 12 years, despite an annual clean-up bill approaching £850m. Chewing gum and cigarettes were found to be the most littered items, while fast food litter increased by 20% in the last year.

In a bid to improve the condition of local streets, committee chair Clive Betts said change was needed.

Litter was a blight on our communities, but councils were spending hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money fighting a losing battle.

‘Government and industry need to get together to tackle the endemic litter problem,’ he added.

‘Handing a portion of tobacco levies to local councils to help pay for the cost of clearing cigarette litter would show government is serious about getting tough on litter.’

The report also called for greater use of fixed penalty notices for littering, and consideration of whether it should be increased from its current £80 maximum, so that they can better contribute to clear up costs.

Notices for fly tipping for household items, which form the majority of such incidents, should also be introduced following a 20% increase last year to 852,000.

Responding to the report, the Local Government Association said ensuring the cleanliness of our public spaces was a key priority for councils, but highlighted that dealing with litter and fly tipping is expensive

‘Cleaning parks and streets and closing highways to collect litter is costing taxpayers nearly £1bn each year at a time when council budgets are under increasing pressure,’ LGA environment spokesman Peter Box said.

‘It is therefore right that manufacturers of cigarettes and chewing gum contribute to the multi-million pound clean-up costs associated with their products.

‘We hope the government will take forward the committee’s recommendations to help councils tackle the blight of littering and fly tipping which creates an eyesore for residents, poses serious public health risks and costs the public purse many hundreds of millions of pounds.’

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