Waste industry expresses ‘concern’ over WCSS delay

Bin man collecting rubbish

Waste associations and professional institutions ‘at the heart of the waste and resource management industry’ have written an open letter to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, expressing their ‘concern’ over the delayed announcement of the successful bids to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Weekly Collection Support Scheme (WCSS).

Signed by Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association, Steve Lee, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, Barry Dennis, Director General of the Environmental Services Association and Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association, the letter warns that the delay in announcing successful bids will see ‘suppliers… having to reduce capacity (and employment) as procurement is stalling delays in meeting future demand from local authorities and their contractors’.

The £250 million scheme, also known as the ‘Pickles fund’ (as Pickles was the scheme’s main proponent), was set up to provide local authorities with the funds to reinstate weekly collections of household waste and recycling, which Pickles called a ‘basic right’.

The letter marks the latest criticism of the DCLG for the ongoing delay, following the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee’s statement voicing their ‘disappointment’ in the late announcement, which they said is causing ‘uncertainty over service delivery’.

The open letter reads in full:

‘We the undersigned, as the main trade associations and professional institution at the heart of the waste and resource management industry, wish to express our concerns regarding the delayed announcement of the successful bids to DCLG’s Weekly Collection Support Scheme.

‘This delay is having an adverse impact on local authority budget setting for 2013. It is creating an artificial hiatus in service design, decision-making and procurement right across local authority waste services and not just with regard to the proposed service changes that have been submitted to the scheme. As a consequence, we are aware of equipment and vehicle manufacturers and suppliers who are having to reduce capacity (and employment) as procurement is stalling, which in turn will introduce delays in meeting future demand from local authorities and their contractors. We would, therefore, urge your department to make an announcement at the earliest possible opportunity.’

‘We realise that a large number of proposals were submitted to the department under the WCSS, many relating to the introduction of improved or new separated food waste collections for example. We can see that this would be to the benefit of the services that local authorities can offer their residents and to the wider economic and environmental value that our sector provides.

‘However, the likelihood of local authorities being able to procure equipment and services to roll out successful WCSS proposals in what is left of 2012/13 is rapidly slipping away. Continued uncertainty and delay will compromise the industry’s ability to deliver and there is a growing risk that the only winners in the event of a sudden up-turn in procurement following any WCSS announcement will be overseas providers of vehicles and equipment, at the expense of UK manufacturers.

‘At a recent meeting between the waste and resources management sector and the new Defra minister Lord De Mauley, our industry delivered a clear message.

‘This is already a green growth sector and, with appropriate government leadership and co-ordination, it is capable of delivering much more in terms of jobs, value, skills and general economic development. We would urge DCLG to acknowledge this contribution and to prioritise the WCSS announcement so that the service improvements that it was designed to support can be put in place.’