19 September 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Hampshire considers cuts to district council subsidies

Hampshire county council may cut the subsidies it pays to district councils who collect waste, as it tries to prioritise funding for its network of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

Under plans to save over £11 million from the Economy, Transport and Environment (ETE) department, Hampshire has identified its waste disposal contract as the primary place for savings.

The local authority hopes to save £8.2 million by maximising and retaining income from the sale of recycled materials, rerouting charges to district councils and ending direct subsidy payments to district councils where recycling infrastructure and facilities have been provided to them free of charge.

By making these savings Hampshire county council claims it can safeguard the network of HWRCs it runs itself, which is says outperform kerbside collections and are valued by the public.

Councillor Rob Humby, Hampshire’s executive member for ETE, said: “We know that our household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) achieve a much higher rate than kerbside bins collected by district councils – in the national recycling league tables, not one district council in Hampshire is in the top half.”

The budget cuts were approved on 17 September by the ETE Committee – they will now be sent to the cabinet in October and full council in November for consideration. The changes would not take effect before April 2021.

Rejected loads

Hampshire plans to redirect costs it currently incurs itself to the district councils. Making district councils pay charges incurred for loads of recycling which are rejected at processing facilities are singled out in particular.

Cllr Humby said local authorities have to “move on” from the arrangements which had been set up in the 1990s.

He explained: “One in every five lorry loads of kerbside recycling arriving at our facilities now fails to meet recycling standards, and we can no longer afford to subsidise the current system which is failing to deliver the standards agreed over 20 years ago.

“We need to take decisive action to make sure that the reduced resources we have are targeted at boosting recycling levels.

He added: “I recognise that this will be challenging for all of us, but my intention is that we should work together to improve recycling performance across Hampshire.”

Waste wood

Hampshire county council has seen £480 million removed from its budgets over the past nine years and has forecast an £80 million budget gap for the next two years up to 2021/22. ETE has already made savings of £56.5 million since 2011.

In another bid to make savings in the ETE budget, Hampshire will begin charging for the disposal of non-household waste wood at its HWRCs. It hopes to save £1 million through this change – currently disposal costs £2.52 million per year.

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