Association for Public Service Excellence
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Don’t bin the idea of local choices

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) today called on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles not to bin the idea of local choice when it comes to rubbish collections. 


Mr Pickles has set aside a fund of £250m to help local authorities return to weekly collections, but APSE chief executive, Paul O’Brien, claimed that this could be confusing and damage local choice over bin collections by raising public expectations beyond the resources available. Mr O’Brien said: ‘With huge cuts in local authority funding, it is for local  elected members to decide on service priorities not a central government minister. This fund will be inadequate for most councils and the practicalities of changing bin collections has not been fully considered. At the same time this intervention will cause confusion amongst residents and undermine locally agreed council policies on bin collections.'


APSE pointed out that:


  • Many councils have successfully implemented alternative weekly collections - still providing residents with a weekly bin collections but collecting different types of waste, such as recyclables.
  • Councils still face ever-increasing landfill charges if they fail to recycle enough waste and implementing localised waste collection strategies has helped councils avoid excessive charges.
  • Many council bin collection services are tied into waste disposals contracts, such as waste to energy schemes, and many schemes are co-dependent upon agreed collection patterns. Changes to these contracts will be very costly and potentially environmentally damaging.
  • The Coalition Government has made huge policy changes to develop a localism agenda, allowing councils to determine how they run and manage local services, but direction from central government on this key frontline service could undermine moves to localism.
  • APSE’s own performance networks data has shown year-on-year improvements in the recycling of waste, which is attributed in many case to reconfiguring refuse collection. Recycling by UK councils in many councils is now between 50 - 60% of all waste collected.
  • Councils that want to switch back to weekly collections of residual waste will face higher costs for labour, fleet and fuel. The average refuse truck costs upwards of £150,000 and many councils have suffered from fuel price increases, so the money made available by Mr Pickles will be insufficient. The council at a local level would be expected to fund the difference or see other services reduced to compensate for the changes.
  • If changes to bin collections are to be permanent then funding needs to be sustained in the longer term


Mr O’Brien said: ‘When councils are already closing some local services, it is unlikely that bin collection on a weekly basis will be universally demanded by either elected members or the council taxpayers they serve. If councils want weekly collections for residual waste they can already choose to do this but it should remain a matter of local choice not central dictat.' Ends


  • APSE is the Association for Public Service Excellence
  • APSE works with over 250 local councils throughout the UK. It is a not for profit body dedicated to promoting and supporting excellence in frontline service delivery
  • APSE hosts APSE performance networks service which is the UK’s largest voluntary data benchmarking service for local council frontline services and collects a range of data of the cost and quality of waste and recycling services   
  • For press quotes or to arrange for interview, please contact Mo Baines on mbaines@apse.org.uk


Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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