Is Pickles’ Weekly Collection Fund Set For Axe?

Eric PicklesEric Pickles’ £250m funding, established to incentivise councils to return to weekly collections of residual waste, could be axed in the Government’s upcoming spending review. 

According to reports by The Daily Mail, sources revealed that the funding was a “very expensive scheme and it has proved to be a pretty ineffective one.”

The £250m failed to convert a single council to return to weekly residual collections, after details of exactly where the money was intending to be spent was published in February this year.

The Daily Mail’s source said they would be surprised if the fund survived the spending review and also confirmed there would be no new initiatives to attempt to “bring back” weekly bin collections.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), along with departments such as Defra are facing budget cuts of up to 40%.

Funding Flop

86 councils were awarded funding, of which, not one used the money to revert back to weekly collections of residual waste, and only 18 used the funding to either introduce, support or expand a weekly collection of food or organic waste

Former Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, set up the £250m funding for local authorities to return to and support existing weekly collections of residual waste – or to invest the money in schemes that would benefit the environment, such as weekly collections of dry recycling or food waste.

In total, 86 councils were awarded funding, of which, not one used the money to revert back to weekly collections of residual waste, and only 18 used the funding to either introduce, support or expand a weekly collection of food or organic waste.

The local authority to receive the most cash was Birmingham, which received £29m to introduce a reward scheme to encourage recycling and to introduce weekly recycling for over 100,000 residents.

Weekly Collection Crusade

During his time at the DCLG, Pickles strongly promoted weekly waste collections over fortnightly, often to the dismay of environmental groups that say fortnightly collections produce more recycling.

Among his efforts to “bring back” the weekly waste collection, Pickles and his former team at the DCLG published the so-called “Bin Bible”, which was aimed at destroying “the lazy left-wing myth that fortnightly bin collections are needed to save money or increase recycling”.

Steve Lee, CIWM – “Most of England’s top performing councils have been running alternate week collections for a number of years, often with weekly food waste, and have seen high levels of resident satisfaction and significant improvements in recycling and landfill diversion”

In August last year Pickles issued guidance for councils to tackle “the daily obstacle course” of wheelie bins and recycling boxes” in streets and more recently he published a new report into how councils can achieve potential savings through clearer specification and procuring in larger volumes with other councils.

In May this year Pickles was axed from his role at the DCLG and was replaced with Greg Clark MP.

CIWM chief executive, Steve Lee, commented: “CIWM’s position has always been that decisions about local waste collection services should be taken by the councils that provide them and the Institution has been concerned by the level of central government intervention on the issue of collection frequency.

“Those councils that need to operate weekly residual collections to meet particular local circumstances, for example high density urban areas, do so. However, most of England’s top performing councils have been running alternate week collections for a number of years, often with weekly food waste, and have seen high levels of resident satisfaction and significant improvements in recycling and landfill diversion.

“Major and potentially costly changes to these services for purely ‘political’ reasons would not only be inappropriate in times of significant budget constraints, but could also impact on the UK’s progress towards meeting the EU 50% recycling target in 2020.”

For the full DCLG data CLICK HERE


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