Councils across Britain are raking in nearly £74million a year from charging tax payers to collect garden waste.
Figures seen by BBC consumer TV programme Rip Off Britain: Live via a freedom of information request reveal that 53 per cent of councils now charge to collect garden waste.
The collection of garden waste used to be included in household’s council tax bills, but generated councils £73.9million last year.
Residents in Harlow, Essex, are subject to the highest collection charge, at £96 a year.
Expensive: Councils are raking in nearly £74m by charging to collect garden waste
Households in Arun, West Sussex, are charged £86 a year, while the average cost across the UK is £42.40.
The lowest charges are £18 a year in Monmouthshire and £22 in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire.
Between 2014 and 20215, councils generated £42.3million by charging people to collect their garden waste, but by the end of 2016 this figure had risen to £56.9million.
BBC presenter Gloria Hunniford said: ‘While clearly some of our viewers are unhappy their garden waste is no longer taken away for free, the results of our survey show it’s unlikely that’s going to change any time soon.
‘And with further councils set to introduce such charges, even more of us will need to get used to paying to have our grass clippings taken away.’
Average: On average, councils charge just over £40 to collect garden waste
A Government spokesman said: ‘Councils will have £90.7 billion to spend on services over the next two years, and they should use that to meet the needs of their residents.
‘Where councils charge people to get rid of garden waste, they must ensure the charges are reasonable, clear, and take into account the views of people in their area.”
A Local Government Association spokesman said: ‘Councils in England face an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020.
‘Some councils were able to provide free garden waste services when they were first introduced but are now having to charge to reflect the growing cost of providing a collection service.
‘Money from garden waste collection charges goes back into maintaining the service.’
A Local Government Association spokesman said: ‘Councils in England face an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020’
The BBC’s Rip of Britain: Live show featured a single street in Trafford in Manchester, which falls under two different councils. One council charges residents to collect garden waste, while the other does not.
One of the street’s residents, Ian Billington, who is subject to the charge, told the BBC: ‘When we first got a letter saying they were introducing it, I was shocked – because it was something that you have always had included in your council tax.’
Waste collection across the country has become increasingly complicated and expensive in recent years. It is not unusual for households to have multiple bins littered outside their homes to comply with their local council’s ever-changing waste policies.
National disgrace: Britain already has a major problem with fly tipping
With charges for certain waste collections on the up and no longer included in council tax bills, it seems no surprise that fly-tipping is on the up, even if the practice can never be excused.
On Twitter, one user called Rosie, said: ‘We have a big issue with fly-tipping (including from rogue traders).
‘When they introduce the garden waste charge it’s going to get much worse. The council already charge for bulky item collection. Not all of us have cars, or access to one, to enable tip runs.’
But, another Twitter user, ‘Another Dan’, suggested that there should be a charge for garden waste collections as not everyone uses the service. He said: ‘Everyone has general waste, but not everyone has garden waste, so why should we all pay for the few?’