Refuse collection is proving to cause problems when it comes to council cutbacks. Following the disruption caused by the seven-week bin service strike in Birmingham, a new report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) suggests that local authorities are seeing rising costs due to failed refuse collections. As a result, councils face another difficult decision over how they should maintain front-line resources in the face of large, continuing funding cuts.
The cost of failure
Birmingham City Council is in the spotlight as a clean-up begins following lengthy strikes. There is a backlog of rubbish that will reportedly cost £300,000 per week to clear. What’s more, commentators now also believe that the deal struck with union Unite may not be affordable.
Birmingham is not the only local authority facing difficulties. According to the LGSCO, 81% of bin-related complaints were upheld last year – a big jump from the 59% upheld the year before. Many of these relate to the oversight of contractors brought in to reduce the cost of the waste collection services – some cases received compensation payments of as much as £350.
Dealing with cuts
In response to the report, the Chairman of the Local Government Association's Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board, Cllr Martin Tett, highlighted that the level of complaints remained low in proportion to the number of people who continue to be satisfied with their service. Nonetheless, he also noted that:
“Councils have seen their core central government funding cut by £2.2 billion this year. Faced with these financial pressures, many are increasingly having to look at innovative and cost-effective ways of delivering services, including collecting waste.”
Finding a balance
Finding the right mix of innovation and continuity will be challenging, but opportunities are still there, through initiatives like DEFRA’s litter innovation fund. Meanwhile, if councils can ensure that those who attempt to disrupt those efforts with littering and fly tipping pay for their misdemeanours – and can rigorously enforce fines through a debt collection policy – there is reason to believe that this balance can be found.
For more information about Dukes Bailiffs' services, and how we can help you maintain a stable cashflow, contact one of our operators today.