A range of communities fund groups are having to tighten their criteria for funded projects as a result of the decreasing use of landfill for waste disposal.
The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is a tax credit scheme enabling operators of landfill sites in England, Northern Ireland and Wales to contribute money to community and environmental organisations, to ‘offset’ some of the negative impacts of living in the vicinity of a landfill site.
Biffa Award has announced that it is no longer going to fund sporting facilities from receiving donations from its communities fund, as a result of reduced funding.
According to the company, less waste is going to landfill sites and the percentage of tax that can be distributed through the scheme is decreasing. Subsequently, the company said it has had to tighten its eligibility criteria.
As of 4th May 2017, Biffa no longer funds sporting facilities, including “cricket nets, floodlights, bowling greens, and other pitch groundworks”.
Sporting clubhouses or pavilions are still eligible, but only if the building can demonstrate regular use by the wider community beyond the sports club or team, the company added.
Biffa said although the announcement is ‘disappointing’ its Biffa Award scheme is “heavily oversubscribed and there is now less funding to distribute.”
It has been confirmed that Veolia Environmental Trust has also made changes to meet high demand for funding.
Paul Taylor, executive director of Veolia Environmental Trust and former chair of the Association of Distributive Environmental Bodies (ADEB) – the representative body for practitioners within the LCF – said: “We’re all having to make changes.”
“We’ve just reduced eligible areas – the community projects have to be a certain distance away from the landfill site and from a Veolia facility. We have just shrunk to only big Veolia facilities which reduces the number of areas we can fund. “
However, in regards to whether the decrease in funding was a concern, Mr Taylor added: “No we’re not worried about it – it’s a fact of life! Given the decrease in landfill, income will inevitably decrease.”
“It’s a really good fund and ministers do understand that, but they do have other priorities.”
“We would love it to carry on, but it’s one year at a time. But whether it will or not, who knows? It’s a ministerial decision.”
A spokesman for the Suez Communities Trust, said the organisation’s funding criteria ‘evolves’ over time, to facilitate the fall in landfill.
“Landfill volumes were always expected to fall and we have always anticipated that there would be a reduction in our income as our donor company landfills less,” he said. “Our criteria changes regularly, and we plan ahead. We are focussed on distributing funding to communities where it can have maximum benefit and for the scheme to perform as well as it can as landfill decreases.”
The Suez spokesman continued: “The LCF has achieved a great deal over the last 20 years and continues to be a very important source of funding for communities. It would be wonderful if the Government could stabilise the value of the scheme so that those communities can continue to benefit into the future.”
In regards to whether there is an end date in sight for communities fund schemes, the spokesperson added: “That’s the big unknown. The LCF is a rather unique scheme without any real precedent. One thing is for sure – when our donor company stops landfilling we’ll no longer have any income to distribute.”
Despite some in the sector suggesting that reduced funding from the decline in landfill had been anticipated and was planned for, Matt Young, chair of the and CEO of GrantScape, a grant management charity, said the issue is still a real concern. GrantScape organises funds on behalf of a range of waste management companies and other organisations.
Mr Young is also chair of the Association of Distributive Environmental Bodies which represents communities fund organisations. He commented: “Any possible reduction in funding is a concern, especially as the scheme is still very much oversubscribed.”
He said that GrantScape has not limited the criteria for organisations which can apply but noted that the charity receives more applications each year, and, as a result, more worthwhile applications are being turned away.
Mr Young continued: “Of course we would like to see a higher diversion rate, but we understand the pressures on Government and were really grateful that it increased the diversion rate from 4.2% – 5.3% in the last budget. This meant the value of the LCF should remain at £40m a year for the current year, as the amount of waste going to landfill reduces.
“The scheme was originally set up to fund community projects located near landfill sites back in 1996. We always knew it was not going to go on forever, but we would like the scheme to go on as long as it can. After all it’s a great Fund which does fantastic work for the environmental and local communities throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”