Charities could be hit if new rubbish disposal charges are brought in
CHARITIES, care homes, schools and hospitals could soon be charged to have their rubbish disposed of.
Derbyshire County Council currently provides the service for free – but a change in the law means local authorities can now decide whether to make institutions pay.
GP surgeries, camp and caravans sites and clubs also face charges.
Bosses at County Hall are set to discuss the issue over the forthcoming weeks.
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If fees are introduced, budgets will be squeezed further and there are concerns services will suffer.
The Government decided to allow councils to introduce charges as the cost of waste disposal has soared over the past decade.
Ministers also said the free service gave institutions no incentive to cut down on their waste.
Accordingly, the "polluter pays" principle has not been applied, they said.
Furthermore, the Government said private contractors that charge to collect and dispose of waste were being put at a disadvantage.
But, in a report to the cabinet, the council's strategic director for environmental services, Ian Stephenson, said that did not necessarily mean the council should introduce charges.
He said there were "sensitive issues" to take into account. If charges were introduced, he warned "certain vulnerable organisations could be affected, particularly residential, care or nursing homes and community-based organisations".
He added organisations would face higher costs, which he warned "could affect services to their community".
Furthermore, Mr Stephenson said charging for the service would mean councils in Derbyshire would "no longer be at a financial advantage against commercial competitors".
But there is a downside to retaining a free service, Mr Stephenson said.
He said it would lead to more organisations switching from private collectors to the council's free service, which would leave the authority having to cover the cost of disposing even more waste.
"The county council could be seen to be unfairly undercutting private-sector collections," he added.
In his final point, he said: "At a time of limited financial resources, it is more important than ever for taxpayer to no longer subsidise the waste disposal costs of private businesses."
Mr Stephenson's report is due to go before cabinet members on Tuesday.
Councillors are expected to authorise Mr Stephenson to come with up a proposed policy, which would then be the subject of a consultation process.