Cash-Strapped Councils Should Use Competition For Waste Collections – ESA

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has today (11 September) called for local authorities to use competition to drive value for money for waste collections.

Speaking at RWM – the sector’s annual trade show in Birmingham’s NEC – ESA’s Executive Director, Jacob Hayler, noted that more councils were moving away from competitive tender procedures for their waste collections, 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 recognises that many Local Authorities are concerned about locking themselves into inflexible arrangements for up to 10 years for their waste collections.

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, raise recycling rates, 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.

“ESA recognises that many Local Authorities are concerned about locking themselves into inflexible arrangements for up to 10 years for their waste collections. But outsourced collection services can provide any degree of flexibility that councils require, provided that such flexibility is built into the commissioning and procurement of these services up-front.

“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, and – above all – value for money for local council tax payers.”

An ESA briefing document on this issue can be found here


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  1. This just isn’t true, you only have to look 2 items down the list at the Renewi item to see that! It also takes no account of the hidden costs of procurement – including the significant legal costs of dealing with potential challenges even when your process is sound. If you have a decent in-house service I’d hang on to it!

    • Quite right Graham: unless the contract spec requires the contractor to deliver a ‘whole’ service, you end up with a basic price that bears no relation to the actual costs when ‘extras’ and ‘variations’ are factored in.

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