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Councils attack weekly fund allocation delay

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has condemned the continued unexplained delay in allocation of the Government’s weekly collection fund.

LARAC warned that the continued delay was holding up service improvements and could lead to supply problems when the money finally did arrive.

Money from the £250m fund was originally due to be allocated in October to councils that made successful bids.

That date then slipped without explanation to early November and this week a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokeswoman could say only that allocations would appear “shortly”.

LARAC vice-chair Mark Foxall said the bidding timetable had been “challenging given the complex and detailed information required”.

Councils had met these demands and were “disappointed that announcements on successful bids have not yet been made”.  

The delay could cause problems for councils entering their budget setting periods for 2013/14, if they still did not know whether they would get the money.

“There is a risk that authorities are deferring the implementation of service improvement changes not reliant on grant funding, whilst waiting to hear whether their bid is successful or not,” Mr Foxall said.

“DCLG have already been advised by authorities that there is a risk that the supply chain may not be able to respond well to increased demand following grant awards.”

Vehicle and container suppliers were quoting a six month lead times for some products and once the allocations eventually became known “this is likely to increase with a sudden spike in demand”.  

Mr Foxall added: “The outcome being that some projects may struggle to be delivered given the tight timetable DCLG has set and its delay in an announcement on bids.”  

The Local Government Association said it was in touch with the DCLG and expected announcements on the fund soon.

The fund is a pet project of communities secretary Eric Pickles, who wanted it to facilitate a switch by local authorities from alternate weekly to weekly collections.

But a MRW investigation in September found that out of 216 eligible councils only Stoke-on-Trent had bid to revert to weekly.

Other bids included additional recycling schemes, weekly collection of nappies and other absorbent hygiene products and of battery and electrical waste collection.

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