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Give councils reassurance over waste strategy funding, say MPs

5 Sep 19

Councils need more information on funding arrangements behind the government’s waste strategy, MPs have said.

The housing, communities and local government committee has called on the government to ensure that any funding is adequate in the long term.

“More information is needed on the additional sources of funding that local authorities will receive to meet the additional costs arising from the waste strategy, including set-up costs and ongoing operation,” the committee said.

It also suggested that local authorities should be permitted to scrutinise the data that informed the government’s proposals and decide if additional funding is likely to be needed.

The strategy, unveiled in December 2018, aims to minimise waste and increase recycling rates, but ministers on the committee said it is inflexible and does not account for different types of authority.

The government has suggested that existing recycling infrastructure will need to be upgraded at a cost of around £20bn.

The report reiterated the committee’s view that there is a need for greater flexibility within the strategy to allow local authorities to decide on local collection practices.

“While it is reasonable for the government to determine which materials should be recycled, we believe that local authorities should retain as much flexibility as possible to determine how waste should be collected in their communities,” it said.

Chair of committee Clive Betts said: “In determining how often waste should be collected, the number of recycling bins or what services should be charged for, the government appears to have forgotten that what works in rural areas may not be suitable for cities.

“Local authorities understand what the challenges are in their areas and should be given the freedom to tailor their approach to meet them.”

He added: “Equally, the government must ensure that the funding is there that will allow local authorities to rise to the challenge.

“The government has indicated it will provide more funding, but they must demonstrate that this will be adequate in the long-term. Local authorities are already struggling, they cannot be expected to shoulder further burden without extra resourcing.”

David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “The LGA is clear that councils should be free to decide how to deliver their waste services locally, as various factors determine waste collection methods, such as property type and rurality.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been contacted for comment.  

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