More stealth taxes - councils start charging those with gardens

7 June 2011

A green waste bin, yesterday

It was only a matter of time really. With all the hoo-ha over certain Councils deciding to cut weekly bin collections to fortnightly, in a way it is surprising it took so long for garden waste to become a cost-cutting target.

You see, you may not have been aware of this, but you actually have a statutory right to have your household rubbish collected by the Council, but no similar provision applies to green, or garden waste. This means it is entirely at the discretion of individual Councils whether or not they want to charge you for the privilege.

This means there is now (another) postcode lottery, although this one isn’t for cancer drugs or alzheimer’s treatment, this is for whether you have to shell out up to £65 a year to have your green stuff disposed of. In Oxford, Gloucester, Nottinghamshire and London there have been actual protests after residents received letters informing them of the new charges of around £30 a year. That’s £2.50 a month.

However disgruntled residents have described the move as a ‘stealth bin tax’. Telegraph interviewee Julie Lee, from Gloucester, resented the extra cost. "We think it's totally wrong. We pay enough money in council tax already, it should still be free,” she argued eloquently.

Whether or not you agree with paying £2.50 a month for something that would cost you far more to dispose of yourself or not, unless you decide to go for the compost route, and in not charging those who don’t have a garden for something they don’t use, there is another interesting issue in Gloucestershire.

Gloucester City Council has introduced a charge of £36 per annum for green waste removal and has already raised £460,000 from residents. This leaves the Council in a bit of an awkward position - the charge was apparently set at a rate to ‘break even’ and merely cover the costs of collection, disposal and administration. However, official figures show that the service will cost around £650,000 to provide the service for three years, so it looks like the Council are on course for substantial profits. Worse, figures reported today show that Gloucester Council actually underspent (for the second year running) last year by a whopping £435,000, rendering the green bin charge completely unnecessary and adding piles of weight to the ‘this is just a stealth tax’ argument...

TOPICS:   Tax   Government

22 comments

  • Mutineer
    They should have just handed out free compost bins instead - no collections necessary.
  • james D.
    the council can pick up garden waste from their entire county for £36 per person per year and make a profit? That actually sounds pretty amazing, this council should be applauded for their efficiency. Perhaps not for their money grabbing ways though.
  • The B.
    My local council tried charging for it about 3 years ago, you had to buy a "green" bag for £35 or a larger one for £50 (the same year in fact that all of the councillors gave themselves £10k pay rises), after 4 months of poor take up they re-instated the free service and refunded everyone's money.
  • Sawyer
    The headline is a little too Daily Mail for Bitterwallet. I mean, it isn't actually a tax on gardens, is it? It's a tax on the disposal of green waste, which - as you mentioned - there are ways to avoid even if you have a garden. I'm pretty sure my local recycling place still has a massive skip for green waste that anyone can use for free, provided you don't turn up in a commercial vehicle. Actually, this whole article is a little Daily Mail. Postcode lottery? Seriously? Unless it's some sort of spoof and I just haven't gotten the joke?
  • Troll
    @Sawyer, ah yes but you see it is a tax on gardens, if you don't have a garden you don't make any green waste to dispose of (in theory) thus tax on green waste disposal =/= tax on gardens.
  • Marky M.
    Most gardens round here have mattresses or old sofas dumped in them. Why not tax them, eh? Hmm? Well?
  • thefunboi
    Cant you just chuck your green waste in a black bin bag and put it in your normal bin? I used to do that for years before these Green bins came about!
  • Dick
    The "I don't use it argument" can be applied to many things. Why should people without cars pay for the upkeep of roads through council tax? Why should people that don't use the library pay for it? Why should childless people pay for schools and education? Why should people that don't use them pay for adult social services, council housing, leisure facilities, art galleries, ...
  • tom
    If you look under your green bins handle you'll see a little black disk for tracking your green bin useage... The council also make money from selling on the compost they make from the green bin waste so they are charging you for making money. Also if they can make money on £35 a year surly black bins are abou the same my £100 a month council (con) tax seems a little high.
  • james D.
    because those are almost all public goods that benefit everyone indirectly as well as people directly. Everyone uses roads, even if you never leave the house to use the bus or a taxi your food is delivered to shops using them, the electric you light your house is maintained by people who use them. A decent road network is a huge benefit to all who live in a country. library? That one is a better example. Schools. We need an educated population of children to take care of us and the country when we are old. It is obviously a benefit to all to have an educated society. Show me one country in the world where education is high but living standards are poor. social services & council housing are more about social responsibility, it's a different argument. Lesiure facilities create sports stars for the country and facilitate exercise reducing obesity reducing the impact on the NHS. art galleries?? umm art responsibility I dont have much opinion on that one.
  • callum
    I can't remember there ever NOT being a charge for green collection services. It's hardly a tax on gardens, we've never had to use it and have a decent sized garden... And an underspend does not mean spend it on whatever you like. There are plenty of better things the council could be spending that money on. I'm used to terrible articles on here, but really...
  • Tweedskin
    Same as Westminster charging Motorbikes to park. First they claimed it was to ease congestion, until someone pointed out the motorcycles don't cause congestion and are exempt from the congestion charge for this very reason. Then they said it wasn't to make money (as this illegal) but to cover costs of providing CEO's, pay by phone, bays etc. Which is fair enough. Until someone pointed out that in the 6 month trial period, the council had made over £600,000 in profit. All councils are the same IMO. Creating a charge for something that they can offer free, but with budget's being cut they are going to claw every penny they can.
  • Dick
    Collection of rubbish, be it household or garden, is also for the public good. First, it doesn't get dumped in the streets. Second (for garden rubbish), it gets recycled by composting it down and then (by many councils) sold as compost. If it is not collected free of charge (or inclusive in council tax), then it just gets put in the regular rubbish collection. Third, gardens are good for preventing flooding. If you penalise people for growing green stuff, then they may tend towards paving it all over since it is then cost free as no more rubbish is generated. Fourth, gardens in which plants and trees grow are good for birds and wildlife, and air quality, which again is good for both the planet and the wellbeing of people. It is of course better to recycle by composting in your garden. But some things cannot be composted (branches, plants with a virus) and some people do not want have compost bins, especially in small gardens.
  • Me
    First: Council are cunts!! Second: Same as above.
  • CJN
    If they don't want to pay why don't they take it down the tip themselves for free
  • Milky
    Get yourself a wormery composter & unless you live on KFC type crap most of the green stuff produced will fit nicely in your wormery tat'll probaly only need 10 minutes maintenance per week, if that! I have one in my office & one outdoors, neither smell, I use office waste cardboard for the worms as bedding & to contain moisture / smells, drain off the liquid at the bottom & every now & again add a new layer, clearing out the bottom one. As a result we could happily live with a collection once every 6 weeks for our refuse, & even then it's not full. takes up the same sort of sfloorspace as a man-hole cover, mine tends to be inside over winter to keep the worms more active, (they're affected by cold & slow down their munching habits) ..then I feed em crushed up baked eggshells from the kitchen to help provide essentials, ..not much to it, we have lovely compost as a result!
  • oliverreed
    We don't have wheelie bins where I live, we still use plastic bin bags. The council charge a fee for garden waste bags, however chuck your cuttings/leaves/grass into a black bin liner and they take it for free. If you paid the council for the garden waste bags they just chuck them in with the rest of the waste anyhow.
  • Mr B.
    All councils are robbing cunts , but SALFORD CLOWNCIL are robbing cunts par excellence . Corrupt , inept , self-serving waster scum .
  • Roj B.
    Time to drag all council bastards and their executive bullshitters out of their cosy offices and hang the inept gang of idle scum.
  • Jemma C.
    All clouncils are stuffed with idle , inept wasters who are too dim to tie a shoelace .
  • Torbert A.
    Councils are stuffed with the too-dim-for-proper-work lot ,idlers , wasters , assholes , brown-nosers , backstabbers , cunts , twats and cretins . Salford clowncil has an abundance of all these , plus a scary spicetwat executive , and a shite MPbleers .
  • Ed M.
    Local Clowncillors are worse than sewer rats , and just as bent and corrupt as politicians . TIME FOR REVOLUTION !

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