Resource Use

Bid criteria for Eric Pickles’s £250 million Weekly Collection Support Scheme published

Eric Pickles

Application criteria for the DCLG’s £250 million Weekly Collection Support Scheme was published yesterday (May 1) for local authorities looking to increase the frequency of their waste collection services.

The £250 million fund was announced in September 2011 by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to provide financial support to English local authorities (LAs) that wish to reinstate weekly collections of household waste and recycling, which Pickles called a ‘basic right’. Expressions of interest in the scheme were due in March and outline bids must now be submitted to the DCLG by 11 May.

Bids will be assessed against three main criteria:

1.     Cost effectiveness

2.     Demonstrable environmental benefit over current performance

3.     Fulfils the frequency of collection:

  • A weekly collection of both residual waste and recyclables OR
  • A weekly collection of residual waste and fortnightly collection of recyclables OR
  • A weekly collection of food waste (plus garden and nappies) and fortnightly collections of residual waste and recyclables.

A scoring system of 0-100 will be used to assess bids, with those opting for ‘comprehensive weekly rubbish and recycling collections’ scoring highest and those seeking only weekly food (plus garden and nappies) waste collection services scoring the lowest. Bids that find ‘innovative service designs’ such as reward schemes will also score more highly.

Around 180 of the 433 English local authorities expressed interest in the fund, but a survey conducted by the Sunday Telegraph found that of the 184 LAs polled, only one (Gloucester City Council) expressed interest in bringing back weekly collections of household waste, albeit with smaller bins. According to the Sunday Telegraph the overwhelming majority of LAs applying for funding wanted it for more frequent food waste and recycling collections.

Pickles’s scheme has been met with criticism from LAs and MPs alike, who believe it to be throwing money at a non-issue. Icaro Consulting’s 2011 report 'Attitudes to Waste and Recycling in Great Britain', found that the top 10 recycling councils in the country currently operate either AWC (alternate weekly collection) with weekly recyclables collection or AWC with a weekly food collection. The report also concluded that 74 per cent of households with AWC were satisfied with their current set up (compared to 83 per cent with a weekly collection).

Joy Blizzard, Chair of LARAC, said: “We’ve seen the statistics for the environmental and cost benefits of AWC, so asking local councils to reverse this is a tough sell. We know that the most successful authorities are the ones that have AWC as well as food waste collections.” Blizzard also voiced concerns that the money could have been better spent: “£250 million is a vast amount of money… if some of it had been put in to campaigning about waste prevention to begin with, we would have saved ourselves a lot of these problems.”

Further concerns were raised as the scheme demands that LAs must commit to weekly collections for a minimum of five years, despite the local council election scheme being shorter and the fact that funding would only be available for three, meaning that eventually the cost of the increased collections would come from the councils’ own budgets.