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Councils should outsource its waste and recycling services, says report

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), the trade body for the UK’s resource and waste management industry, has today launched a campaign to promote the use of outsourcing which it believes can deliver cost savings and drive innovation in service delivery for local authorities.

ESA has published a briefing called ‘delivering best value through competition’ to accompany this campaign launch.

The report calls on local authorities to utilise the specialist experience of the private sector in delivering waste and recycling services, and by learning from similar arrangements provided for councils elsewhere, ‘contractors are able to drive efficiency in their service provision,’

The report states that councils are moving away from competitive tender procedures for their waste services, either by moving services in-house or by using a “Teckal” exemption from the Public Procurement Directives. ESA believes that this is taking away the opportunity for those councils to use the market to find the best solutions to fit their local circumstances.

ESA’s Executive Director, Jacob Hayler said:

‘It is no surprise that councils across the country are examining all their options during a period of unprecedented financial challenges for the local government sector. Local Authorities are under huge pressure to maintain service levels for their residents, improve recycling performance, and above all to save money.

‘ESA agrees that councils are best placed to decide how they want to manage these trade-offs, but we believe that the market is best placed to deliver value for money.

‘By transferring risks to the private sector, Local Authorities are able to insulate themselves from unforeseen costs and gain greater certainty over their budgets. The risk for delivering a quality service to cost lies with the contractor and is enforced through its legal obligations under the contract. This provides transparency and accountability in the delivery of the services, which improves outcomes for council taxpayers.

‘ESA recognises that many Local Authorities are concerned about locking themselves into inflexible arrangements for up to 10 years for their waste services. But we believe that competitive tenders – open to both private and publically owned service providers – can be used to protect councils from changes in future legislation in the most affordable way.

‘We are keen to work with the local government sector to explore new contracting solutions which would help to address this.’

Read the report here

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