Sunderland City Council to slash bulky waste charge to help struggling households and tackle fly-tipping

Bulky waste collection charges look set to be more than halved as council bosses prepare their latest budget.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 10:39 am

Bulky waste is classed as furniture, household electrical items like televisions and white goods including fridges and freezers.

Due to increasing budget pressures, many councils started to charge to collect the items in recent years, with Sunderland City Council introducing a fee in 2013.

Next week, the council’s ruling cabinet will discuss proposals to cut the current £22.50 charge for six items to £10.

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The price drop is part of a series of proposals drafted for the 2020/21 revenue budget.

It also comes as the authority faces continued budget pressures and uncertainty around future government funding, with £315 million in savings already made since 2010.

“One of the areas we’ve had a lot of complaints over is the cost of the bulky waste charge and that people genuinely can’t afford it,” council leader, Coun Graeme Miller, said.

“I have decided that we can’t ignore that because if it’s adding to our fly-tipping problem we’re not saving any money by having this charge, it’s a questionable grey area because we don’t know whether the fly-tipping would occur anyway.

“But we have to try and make it more cost-effective for residents, you’re still going to get the full six item collection for [£10] and I’m hoping people see that we’re genuinely trying to be helpful.

“If we had more money it wouldn’t be £10, it would be nothing, which is what it was before austerity kicked in and we had to start charging for things that we used to do for free.

“This is the council doing what it can given the budget and where it is, and I’m hoping residents will be very pleased with that.

“It’s another example of us listening to their concerns and trying to give them a solution that works for them.”

Coun Miller added: “With the council bulky waste service, there’s no ‘white van man’ risk of a waste carrier who just advertises online, has no licensed credentials and disposes of the waste illegally

“Plus, this reduction would not be for a limited period, it is not a sale, it would be permanent.”

Bulky waste charges are part of a raft of spending plans which will be discussed by cabinet on Tuesday, February 11.

This includes an extra £400,000 for city ‘deep cleans’ and a £250,000 boost for public protection work, such as monitoring private landlords and more hygiene inspections at restaurants and takeaways.

Other plans include a £1million carbon reduction fund to help the council meet its ‘climate emergency’ targets of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.

Sunderland residents are expected to see a 3.99% hike to their council tax bill in line with expectations set out by the government – which includes a 2% levy towards adult care costs.

Following agreement at last November’s full council meeting and the findings of an independent review panel, the 2020/21 budget also includes a £140,000 cut to special responsibility allowances for councillors.

The final budget meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 4.

If approved, new bulky waste fees would come into force from April.

Other proposed new spends in the revenue budget include:

:: £1million extra towards demand and cost pressures in children’s social care.

:: £6million to meet demand and cost pressures in adult social care.

:: Recruiting two officers to deal with anti-social behaviour, including a dedicated city centre officer.

:: £5million to ensure the council’s capital investment is sustainable.