Garden waste collection charges rise to £74m a year

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More than half of councils now charge for green waste collection

UK councils are charging almost £74m a year between them for garden waste collection, BBC research has suggested.

Data collected by BBC One's Rip Off Britain revealed that more than half of councils had introduced charges.

Residents' green waste was previously paid for through the council tax by most local authorities.

The Local Government Association said councils were forced to charge because they face a £5bn shortfall in funding from central government.

Rip Off Britain gathered responses under the Freedom of Information Act from 322 of the 326 UK local authorities responsible for waste collection. It found that 172 charged to pick up garden waste.

The total charges for green waste collection have risen from £42.3m in 2014-15 to £56.9m in 2015-16, the data showed.

And in 2016-17, the charges hit a total of £73.9m.

Presenter Gloria Hunniford said: "While clearly some of our viewers are unhappy their garden waste is no longer taken away for free, the results of our survey show it's unlikely that's going to change any time soon.

"And with further councils set to introduce such charges, even more of us will need to get used to paying to have our grass clippings taken away."

'Shocked' by charges

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said that local councils had been forced to introduce charges because of cuts to funding by central government.

"Councils in England face an overall funding gap that will exceed £5bn by 2020," he said.

"Some councils were able to provide free garden waste services when they were first introduced but are now having to charge to reflect the growing cost of providing a collection service."

The charges for green waste collection represent an average cost to residents of £42.40 a year.

But the programme found that prices vary hugely. Harlow in Essex had the highest average cost at £96 a year, followed by Arun in West Sussex at £86 a year.

The lowest average costs were £18 a year in Monmouthshire and £22 a year in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

The programme features residents of one particular street in Trafford, Greater Manchester, which is divided between two councils. One charges for garden waste, while the other does not.

Resident Ian Billington said: "When we first got a letter saying they were introducing it, I was shocked - because it was something that you have always had included in your council tax."

Rip Off Britain is broadcast at 09.15 BST on Monday on BBC One.

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