Lyons report backs variable charging for waste

Councils should have optional powers to charge householders for waste, Sir Michael Lyons has recommended in his review into the future funding of local authorities, published last month.

The Lyons Inquiry into Local Government – Final Report states that: “Given the severity of pressures likely to arise in the waste system, I can see that a power to introduce variable charging for household waste could have a significant role to play … and might be a sensible addition to councils’ financial ‘toolkit’.”

Sir Lyons goes on to emphasise that there needs to be clarity about the purpose of any new charge, and how it interacts with council tax.

“My public perceptions work clearly demonstrates that people consider waste management to be a key local authority activity, and that many feel they already pay for this through their council tax bill.”

He adds that public understanding of the principles behind a charging scheme is “essential” and says that any such powers should be not be optional and not compulsory.

“I am clear that charging should be a matter for local choice, and am not proposing that it be rolled out nationally, or in a way that does not reflect community preferences.

“However if tailored to local circumstances, variable charging might be a means by which incentives can be created to reduce waste and thereby reduce costs.”

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