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Announcement of DCLG cuts causes confusion for waste management industry

There is confusion over how Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) plans to cut £1.166bn from its budget will affect local authority waste collection services.

The DCLG announced yesterday that the £29bn ‘general grant’ which is described as “the main source of funding that local government receives every year” is not being reduced and “will ensure that key frontline services can be protected and prevent council tax rises” according to a statement.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “The detailed spending decisions outlined today show a clear determination to make the necessary savings while minimising the impact on essential frontline services like rubbish collections and protecting spending on schools and Sure Start. We have focused attention on reducing the centre and it is here that the reductions are the hardest.”

Instead, the bulk of the £1.166bn cuts are to be made around local authority revenue grants, which were described by the DCLG as “individual programme budgets” for smaller projects within local authorities, and are often given to third sector projects.

The DCLG will also make cuts to larger community programmes, including the closure of the Regional Development Agencies, which will save an estimated £186m.

Despite the DCLG assurances that rubbish collection would be protected, Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) chair Joy Blizzard told MRW that the announced cuts were likely to affect waste services at council level.

Blizzard explained: “Services seen as non-essential may be stripped back, any free bulky collections may disappear, alternate weekly collection may expand.  Also councils may need to check that they are running the services that they offer to the maximum efficiency - could the capture rate for recycling material be improved?”

Chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) Dame Margaret Eaton, also voiced concerns about the impact of the announced cuts: “We have to recognise that these cuts will be painful to implement this year and will have a significant effect on services and the people who rely on them,” she said.

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