DCLG announces successful WCSS bids
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced today (22 November) that 90 projects from 85 councils have secured funding from the £250 million Weekly Collection Support Scheme (WCSS).
The delayed announcement had been causing concern in the waste industry, with waste associations and the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) expressing their respective ‘concern’ and ‘disappointment’ at the delay.
The DCLG has revealed that of the 118 councils that applied for a piece of the funding, 90 bids from 85 councils were successful and 40 bids were unsuccessful.
According to the DCLG’s ‘frequently asked questions’ document, just over 6.2 million households will receive a weekly collection of residual waste alongside new or amended recycling schemes.
The FAQ document also claim applications were judged against the criteria of demonstrating:
• a commitment to provide weekly waste collections;
• environmental benefits;
• cost effectiveness for the planned service improvements; and
• innovative ideas for waste collection and recycling that will transform waste
collection for the better in this country.
It further explains that unsuccessful bids ‘either failed on one or more of the ‘minimum criteria’ or simply did not score as highly against all of scheme’s criteria’.
Birmingham City Council has been awarded the largest portion of the funding, receiving just under £30 million to introduce weekly collections ‘to over 100,000 households that currently have a fortnightly recycling service’, implement a recycling reward scheme for all households and ‘support’ weekly residual waste collections.
Bournemouth Borough Council will receive the second largest amount of funding, having been allocated £14.2 million to ‘process the range of co-mingled recyclable materials collected by partnering authorities, whilst supporting a weekly collection of residual waste’.
Other projects include Leicester City Council’s proposals to introduce 'on street' recycling facilities and offer residents ‘the opportunity to recycle a wider range of materials’ (£3.5 million), Bradford Metropolitan District Council’s plans to increase the frequency of an ‘enhanced dry recyclate collection’ from every four weeks to fortnightly (£4.7 million), and Medway Council’s ‘full suite of weekly collection services’, increasing dry recycling and organic waste collections from fortnightly to weekly and ‘supporting’ a weekly residual collection (£14 million).
Milton Keynes council has also been awarded £1.8 million to see all collection vehicles run on ‘compressed biomethane’ from anaerobic digestion plants.
In total, 41 projects offering incentives for recycling, such as shopping vouchers or loyalty points were given a portion of the funding to ‘encourage further take-up across the country’.
There is no reference to any council using the money to directly introduce weekly residual waste collections, although it is understood Stoke-on-Trent intends to revert from alternate weekly to weekly collection of residuals.
‘Sigh of relief’
Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, said: “Every Englishman has a basic right to have their household rubbish taken away each and every week – it is the most visible council service people get. Yet under the previous administration weekly bin collections halved while their Council Tax bills doubled.
“Over 6 million families will breathe a sigh of relief tonight because we have put a stop to the fetid fortnightly rot and saved many weekly collections from extinction, all while increasing recycling rates by hundreds of thousands of tonnes to boot.”
Earlier this week, Pickles had written an article in the Daily Mail saying that is ‘wholly unreasonable’ of local authorities to ‘expect government grants to go, in the long term, to councils that are operating fortnightly bin collections’.
‘That support is designed to provide weekly collections on the grounds of public health. This is a basic service that people expect’, he added.
However, members of the industry have criticised this threat, with one of the waste management industry’s representatives, the Environmental Services Association (ESA), saying that the government’s approach to collections and recycling is becoming 'less and less clear by the day’. The industry reaction to the scheme since its proposal has largely been one of dismay.
In a statement released today, Matthew Farrow, ESA’s Director of Policy, Matthew Farrow said: “Eric Pickles’s latest comments [on withholding central government funding] show that the government’s approach to collections and recycling is becoming less and less clear by the day. The conflicting political rhetoric around ‘greenest government ever,’ ‘localism’ and ‘weekly collections’ has become a mess. While ESA members can provide whatever type of collection services local authorities need and want, we would oppose any attempt to force a ‘one size fits all’ approach on local councils.”
Speaking about the allocation of funding, Farrow added: “The political debate over the rights and wrongs of weekly collections shouldn’t obscure the fact that there look to be some useful developments among the wining [sic] bids.
“The new food waste collections can help turn more household waste into a resource through technologies like anaerobic digestion while those bids aiming to make recycling collections more comprehensive or easy to use can play a role in tackling what seems to be a recent slow down in the long-term rise of England’s recycling rates.
“A number of bids seem to be giving councils extra money to continue with the weekly collections that they already provide – it’s somewhat surprising that the government believes this is value for money at a time when public spending is being cut.”
See the full list of successful bids.