The Local Government Association (LGA) has highlighted the cost of cleaning up fly-tipping, and said services dealing with fly-tips could be at risk unless council get enough money from central Government funds.
Launching a campaign to influence the spending review due later this year, the LGA said that between 2010-20, councils will have lost almost 60% of money the Government provides through grants.
The association warns that councils are being left with little to spend beyond those services they are legally obliged to provide, such as social care.
“That could mean many cherished local – but discretionary – services…face being drastically cut back by councils across the country,” it said.
The LGA gave the example of the costs generated by the 997,553 incidents of illegal fly-tipping recorded by councils last year, which its latest figures put at £57m.
It cited research by the Mail on Sunday newspaper which found that of the 997,553 incidents, only 2,243 were dealt with in court – with just 25 offenders being imprisoned – and 171 local authorities in England did not bring any fly-tipping prosecutions in 2017-18.
Since 2016, councils have had the power to impose on-the-spot fines of up to £400 on fly-tippers, but there were only 68,618 fixed penalty notices imposed last year, covering the equivalent of 6.8% of offences.
The LGA said there was a “fly-tipping epidemic” but each time someone was convicted for more serious offences it “still results in council taxpayers having to pick up the bill”.
It said in a statement: “We need to make sure that when councils take offenders to court, a faster, more effective legal system ensures that serious fly-tipping offences result in hard-hitting fines.
“Manufacturers can also contribute, by providing more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones.”
LGA environment spokesman Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “For serious and repeat offenders, I would like to see greater financial penalties by the courts on the culprits to act as a serious deterrent and not just a light rap on the knuckles.”
Defra said there had been a decrease of 1% in fly-tipping incidents for 2017/18, following annual increases since 2013/14.
A spokesperson said: ”The latest figures show our actions to crack down on fly-tippers are delivering results, with no increase in the number of incidents for the first time in five years.”
The Government’s public sector spending review is conducted every two years in order to allocate departmental budgets.
This story was updated on 5 February to include a comment from Defra