The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on the Government to consider abolishing landfill tax as part of its submission to Chancellor George Osborne ahead of next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
Abolishing landfill tax is one of 20 measures outlined by the LGA in its Spending Review 2010: Local Government Group submissiondocument which looks at ways that councils can avoid harming frontline services while allowing central Government to make the cuts necessary to reduce the deficit.
The LGA estimates that frontline council services such as waste collection and recycling could face a funding shortfall of up to £20bn a year by 2015 if cuts in the CSR are imposed without a reform of the way the public sector operates.
In the report, the LGA highlights waste collection and disposal as being the third largest local government service, behind education and social care, in terms of spend with costs expected to rise from £3.4billion in 2010/2011 to £4.3billion in 2014/2015.
Even though collection costs have fallen as a result of the “sensible decisions that local authorities are taking up and down the country to encourage recycling and rationalise collection”, disposal costs continue to increase very rapidly as a result of the rising cost of landfill tax.
The report states that: “The rising rate of landfill tax has clearly helped to divert waste from landfill in the past but now, with the proceeds of the tax retained by government, the impact is punitive and counterproductive.”
The LGA calls for the tax to be completely abolished, or as an alternative, its proceeds returned directly to local government, something which the organisation has long been in favour of.
LGA chairman Baroness Margaret Eaton said: “Councils deliver hundreds of frontline services from collecting rubbish to helping elderly people live independently in their own homes. They have made huge efficiency savings in recent years, and the scope to make further savings without cutting services is limited.
“We know the public sector is facing deep cuts in the Government’s spending review. We have laid out practical plans to deliver big savings by cutting out unnecessary waste and red tape in the system and devolving control over public services to local people who know best what their areas need.”
The report also points out that the Government’s on-going Waste Review designed to direct more investment in waste infrastructure to provide for better recycling and reuse services is at odds with its current emphasis on spending cuts.
It says: “This policy is not compatible with a capital spending path that involves a 50% per year decrease over the spending review period.”