Funding ministers have set aside to help councils keep or restore weekly bin collections could be better spent on more pressing priorities, according to sector leaders.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles announced £250m would be available for councils which commit to retain or re-instate weekly waste collections for at least five years.
Mr Pickles said weekly rubbish collections were “the most visible of all front-line services” and that “every household in England has a basic right to have their rubbish collected every week”.
The Local Government Association welcomed the move but other senior figures, including some Conservatives, voiced frustrations about how the money was being spent.
Swindon BC leader, Rod Bluh (Con), said via twitter: “Not weekly bin collections again! If Govt had money to spend we want it for social care not waste!”
New Local Government Network director Simon Parker said at a time when councils are facing deep spending cuts, the decision to find cash for weekly bin collections looked “a little eccentric”.
“With social care costs going through the roof, most councils would prefer that DCLG’s money had been spent on looking after the vulnerable,” he added.
Details of where the money is coming from remained opaque. LGC understands the money has been taken from the department’s “unallocated resource” funding rather than being siphoned off existing projects.
A source familiar with the package said the funding would not be ring fenced but would work as “incentive funding in a similar way to the New Homes Bonus”.
A departmental source told the BBC they had “raided every biscuit tin in the building” to find the cash.
LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell (Con) said: “Local authorities will find the new money useful if financial considerations were holding them back from operating a weekly collection.
“As the government has recognised by giving councils an option, the decision ultimately comes down to local choice. People want reliable, efficient bin collection which makes it easy to recycle.
“That can be achieved in different ways and councils have to find a system that works well for residents in their area. We know this local approach is working because it is the most popular service provided by councils, with 84%of residents saying they are satisfied with their bin collection.”