Confusion over the future of Pay-As-You-Throw

The Prime Minister says there will be no 'bin tax' but Defra says proposed trials of Pay-As-You-Throw waste collection schemes will be going ahead as planned.

So is variable charging for waste a woefully unpopular tax too far, or a sensible way of encouraging the public to spend more time sorting their waste.

According to a number of newspapers, Number 10 signalled that Gordon Brown was ready to scrap PAYT for the foreseeable future in an effort to bolster popularity after Labour’s drubbing in the local elections.

Meanwhile Defra says pilot schemes will go ahead – and will inform any future decision on a wider roll-out which, in any case, could not be implemented until 2009 at the earliest.

Mr Brown’s people are now saying he never said he would trade PAYT for an electoral boost.

A Defra spokesman told edie: “”Five local authorities will next year be undertaking pilot schemes to create incentives for recycling.

“We will evaluate the impact of those pilots before making a final decision on whether other local authorities can introduce similar schemes.”

This amounts to no change to previous plans.

Were PAYT schemes to go beyond the trial stage, legislation would have to be written to allow their adoption – and this would form part of the Climate Change Act, which will not come into force until next year at the earliest.

The Local Government Association told edie ‘nobody has the first idea’ what Government’s current position on the future of PAYT might be.

But it does believe that ruling them out would be a mistake.

“That would not give councils a full armoury of tools that they need in order to tackle Britain’s growing waste mountain,” said a spokesman.

“We’ve consistently said that we want local authorities to have the power not the duty to introduce these schemes.”

He claimed it was inappropriate for one man to make the decision, and local councils should be able to take the choice based on whether it was likely to be appropriate for their residents.

He also said that though the media had presented PAYT as unpopular, polls painted a different picture and not everyone saw the schemes as an unwanted tax.

“There will be some people who view it like this,” he acknowledged.

“Others will perceive this as a scheme where they actually save money and benefit from recycling as much as possible.”

Sam Bond

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