The Government has rejected calls for £1.5billion in landfill taxes to be returned to local authorities in a letter to the Local Government Association (LGA) from Environment Minister Hilary Benn.
Benns letter was a response to continued calls and correspondence from the LGA demanding the cash be returned to enable future service funding. In March this year LGA chairman Simon Milton wrote to Benn on behalf of local authorities asking him to honour your pledge to return the money raised through landfill tax to local authorities (mrw, March 11 2008).
In his response Benn acknowledged waste management cost pressures on local authorities but said: These were taken into account in the assessment of spending pressure undertaken for the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.
Efficiency savings will also play an important part in meeting these challenges. We do not expect that councils will struggle with financial pressures in dealing with waste or elsewhere.
Benn also said that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs did not guarantee specific streams of funding.
The Revenue Support Grant settlement is unringfenced and unhypothecated, maximising the freedom and flexibility of local authorities to allocate resources according to local priorities, he added.
Referring to commitments made in the Local Government White Paper he added: We expect that increasing amounts of funding will be delivered to local government in this way.
He also recognised that further investment in the sector was needed if recycling rate increases were to be continued.
Image: Environment Minister Hilary Benn