MPs are to probe the potential impact of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy on local authority finances.
The inquiry from the Commons’ Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, announced on Friday (22 March), will examine how the strategy is likely to affect council services.
Defra’s long-anticipated Resources and Waste Strategy was launched in December, setting out a series of policies aimed at improving resource management in the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).
Headline policy proposals include the prospect of separate food waste collections for every household in England and an overhaul of the packaging producer responsibility system – intended to make packaging producers pay the “full net cost” of recycling and disposal for their products.
Other proposals include greater standardisation of local authority kerbside recycling systems, to include a core set of materials collection from householders.
Government has pledged to fully fund measures “new burdens” such as for food waste collection (see letsrecycle.com story).
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has said that its inquiry will consider how appropriate a standardised approach to waste services will be, or if there are benefits “for allowing a degree of local flexibility”.
The Committee will also investigate how joint-working between layers of local government with responsibility for waste can be improved, it said.
Launching the inquiry, Committee chair Clive Betts, said: “It is important that there is a comprehensive strategy to increase the levels of recycling. But ahead of placing greater responsibilities on local authorities we must first look at their ability to meet them. With budgets shrinking, and acute challenges elsewhere, is there capacity to tackle increased demands on waste services?
“We will also be looking at how appropriate a one-size-fits-all approach will be, and if there would be benefits to allowing local authorities some flexibility to meet the specific waste challenges in their area.”
Stakeholders have been asked to provide evidence on the financial implication of the Strategy for local authorities, as well as evidence of the likely impact on recycling rates. They have also asked for views on how it may impact existing contracts. Written submissions can be provided as evidence up to 26 April.