Wolverhampton’s waste services set for £800k overspend

Wolverhampton Council’s waste services are set to make a budget loss of £800,000 for 2019/20, following the implementation of a new garden waste collection service in 2019.

Wolverhampton Civic Centre
Wolverhampton Civic Centre

According to the Council’s Revenue Budget Monitoring Report, the overspend within the waste and recycling service comes as part of a £1.5-million deficit in the Council’s overall environment budget.

Bringing its waste services in-house in 2018, the Council has implemented a series of service changes throughout 2018 and 2019, cutting food waste collections, switching from weekly to fortnightly residual waste collection and introducing a charge for garden waste collection. With the Council intending that its new waste services would achieve total savings of £2.4 million, the budget report stresses that “a number of additional costs incurred this year will be addressed as part of the waste restructure.”

According to the report, the overspend can be partly attributed to a one-off spend on the new purple bins for the Council’s new garden waste collection service.

Speaking to the Express & Star, Councillor Steve Evans said: “The huge transformation of waste services is an ongoing process and will result in annual savings of £2.4 million.

“To be clear, in the first year of the garden waste service there have been one-off associated costs for the council – not for residents – and this was for the initial purchase of bins. Income from the service after year one will be used to contribute to the reduction in budget.”

With local authorities facing increasing pressure to boost recycling rates, councils are frequently looking at ways to change the waste services they offer in a bid to increase the amount of waste they collect while offering better value for money – changes that often come with not insignificant upfront costs.

Such upheaval can be expected to affect most English councils if the government carries out the measures proposed in its Environment Bill to their fullest extent, including the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers and increased consistency in recycling collections across the country.

As the Bill passed its second reading in Parliament in October (though it is yet to be reintroduced to the House of Commons following its fall prior to the 2019 general election), MPs criticised the lack of concern for local authorities, with former MP Sandy Martin, former Shadow Minister for Waste and Recycling, highlighting the absence of funding to enable councils to meet the Bill’s proposals.

Wolverhampton Council has been contacted for comment.