Government ‘must give local authorities more flexibility on waste’

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee says councils must have the freedom to develop their own recycling strategies

The government must give local authorities greater funding and flexibility if the targets set in the Waste Strategy are to be reached.

That’s the verdict from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, which says councils must have the freedom to develop their own recycling strategies suited to the unique needs of their communities.

In a letter written to Under-Secretary of State for Local Government, Rishis Sunak MP, the committee criticises the current approach as overly prescriptive and rigid, also noting the Waste Strategy cannot place extra burdens on local authorities without providing the means to adequately support them.

It claims the proposed Waste Strategy “seeks to dictate from the centre that which would be better determined by local decision makers”, regarding issues such as how many recycling bins are needed, the frequency of food and residual waste collections and mandatory free garden waste collection.

The letter states 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.

It also stresses the proposed Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme, which sees businesses held responsible for their part in creating waste, must prove a reliable, long term source of income to local authorities – potentially, £20 billion of investment will be needed to support new recycling infrastructure, which the committee believes should be covered by the government.

Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP 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.”

ELN has contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government for a response.

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