Communities secretary Eric Pickles has warned English councils that fail to restore weekly bin collections could have their central government funding slashed.
Mr Pickles said there was “no plausible reason” why councils should not collect bins weekly and warned that formula grant funding could be removed from authorities which did not do so.
“If councils don’t get their house in order and deliver this basic public service then not only will they be held to account at the ballot box,” he said. “We will be looking closely at the central government funding for bin collections; councils receive £28bn in formula grant funding - it’s not unreasonable that they provide a decent bin service in return.”
The announcement could affect more than half of councils in England that run some form of fortnightly collection.
The government is providing £250m through Mr Pickles’ pet project, the Weekly Collection Support Scheme. It was initially aimed at returning councils to a weekly service, but the criteria for bids were opened out to include a variety of different recycling schemes, from food waste to disposable absorbent product collection.
Officials said 85 local authorities covering more than six million households were set to benefit from the programme out of the 145 that put in bids.
An investigation by LGC’s sister publication Materials Recycling World in September found that out of 216 eligible councils only Stoke-on-Trent had bid to revert to weekly.
Phillip Ward, former director of local government services at WRAP, said: “Eric Pickles says that he believes in localism. The reason why councils get formula block grants is so that they can be the judge of what services are most needed for their local circumstances. Threatening to reduce that grant if councils don’t make a specific decision for which there is no compelling evidence is not localism, it is bullying and face saving. But it is probably the smokescreen for what will be a difficult announcement for him of the outcome of his ill judged bin fund.”
As MRW has reported, industry trade bodies and associations have this week called for an announcement on successful bids to the bin fund to be made without delay. Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee also condemned the continued unexplained delay in allocation of the government’s weekly collection fund.
An announcement is expected shortly.