9 May 2018 by Elizabeth Slow

HWRC savings highlighted in East Midlands efficiencies report

Leicestershire county council has made savings of £600,000 per annum since taking some of its operations, including 13 HWRCs, back in-house.

The figures come in the latest regional report by Local Partnerships – jointly owned by HM Treasury, Local Government Association and the Welsh Government.

Delivering Waste Efficiencies in the East Midlands looks at financial savings made through changes and initiatives implemented by local authorities in the East Midlands. It is the seventh regional review undertaken by Local Partnerships focusing on efficiencies achieved in waste management.

council waste savings through HWRCs

Leicestershire county council’s Whetstone HWRC

The report identifies the areas where more than £8 million per annum in savings have been achieved. A total of 19 authorities were involved in the study.


In the report, Local Partnerships said since taking the operation of 13 HWRCs, one waste transfer station and container bulk haulage back in-house in 2017/18, Leicestershire county council has delivered a saving of £600,000 per annum. And, the report notes, the move has provided “greater flexibility” for the authority to undertake future changes.

According to Local Partnerships, the decision in Leicestershire followed an assessment of various options which cumulated in a recommendation to Cabinet in June 2016.

“To effect this change, the Authority worked with the outgoing provider to transfer 77 employees to the local authority under TUPE regulations. A fleet of eight hook loaders was purchased and a new Health & Safety Management System was produced and rolled out to all transferring employees.”

Local Partnerships says the overall findings of the report demonstrate “that delivering savings is becoming increasingly harder, as major efficiencies have been extracted by authorities over the last ten years; further savings are becoming more difficult to secure without having an adverse impact on services.”

And, it shows “the diversity of opportunities explored by authorities to generate efficiencies, performance improvements and financial savings,” Local Partnerships said.

The report also highlights local authorities which have achieved efficiencies through contract management and negotiation. According to the report Northamptonshire county council’s contracts for the treatment and disposal of residual waste have achieved savings “estimated in excess of £1 million a year compared to what the authority would have spent if the status quo was maintained”.

Northampton, Harborough and Charnwood are also noted as having achieved savings through contract management and renegotiation.

A total of 19 East Midlands authorities were involved in the study


Northamptonshire county council also made substantial cost savings through rationalisation of HWRCs and bring sites. And, Lincolnshire county council, High Peak and Harborough too made changes to either their HWRCs or bring sites.

The report says: “Service changes at HWRCs including reduced opening hours across all sites, and the closure of one site achieved savings of £400,000 per annum for Northamptonshire County Council. This has made the operation of the sites more efficient in terms of the same amount of waste and visitors within shorter operational hours but has meant that the performance management of the contract is more challenging.”

Other efficiencies listed in the report include: route optimisation, service changes, charging for green/bulky waste, joint procurement and partnership working, shared services, and technology improvements. The report also shares “lessons learnt” and advice to other local authorities considering changes to their services and operations.


John Enright, project director at Local Partnerships said the report shows that this has been the “most diverse year” in terms of approaches taken by local authorities to deliver cost savings. And he praised councils which he said are doing “a really good job”.

Mr Enright suggested that there are no longer “quick wins” for local authorities to achieve savings and the report shows that “now they are having to go further and explore new areas”.

He explained that the report gives local authorities the opportunity to see what is being done in the local area by other authorities in order to make savings. And, he said, the report is also available to the public and gives an insight into why changes have been implemented.

The report looks at both in-house and outsourced services, however it is noted that in-house collection dominates in the responses received.

Recently, a number of opinions have been expressed over the best way for councils to provide waste management services. In a report launched last month, the Environmental Services Association claimed that the projected savings to local authorities for bringing their waste services in-house are often “inaccurate” and do not account properly for risk transfer under an outsourced solution (see letsrecycle.com story).

There’s big debate about outsourced or in-house. Local authorities have no preconceived ideas which way to go.

John Enright
Local Partnerships

However, this was met with backlash from organisations such as APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) and trade union Unite who spoke out in favour of insourcing (see letsrecycle.com story).


Speaking yesterday, Mr Enright said: “There’s big debate about outsourced or in-house. Local authorities have no pre-conceived ideas which way to go.” But he explained, because of financial pressures, “where they may have outsourced they are looking at whether they can provide it themselves”.

Previous reviews undertaken by Local Partnerships focussing on efficiencies achieved in waste management included the East of England, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, North East, West Midlands and London.

Related links
East Midlands report

National Civic Amenity Site Conference

Hosted by letsrecycle.com, the NCAS Conference (7 June, Stamford Court, Leicester) will explore good practice in HWRC management and provide delegates with an overview of how to improve performance and cut costs whilst still providing a good quality service.


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