The Landfill Communities Fund is at risk. Read on to find out how you can help protect this valuable source of funding for local community and wildlife projects.
The Landfill Tax
A landfill tax was introduced in 1996 and has been very successful in reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill. It has been a big help in driving more recycling.
The tax is paid by the waste companies who have contracts with local authorities and businesses. These Landfill Operators pay £84 per tonne of waste they deposit in the ground. And HM Treasury receives around £1.3 billion in tax revenues (1) .
The Landfill Communities Fund
Most brilliantly of all, Landfill Operators can choose to re-direct part of their tax bill to local communities near landfill sites rather than paying it to the Treasury. In 2016-17 they can divert 90p of every £25 of tax they owe (2); so long as £1 goes to a community project. The local community normally fundraises for the missing 10p in every pound.
To date, most Operators have jumped at the chance to do this and since 1996 local communities near landfill sites have been able to invest over £1.4billion in 51,000 projects.
These projects have had an amazing impact on our country and its wildlife: from building an eco-friendly visitor centre in Buckinghamshire, to reintroducing beavers to Scotland; restoring heathlands in Wales, to surveying sealife in Cornwall, there is no doubt that both our landscapes and local communities are richer for the help they have received. For more examples of projects it has breathed life into, go to http://wtru.st/LCFreport. And this is not to mention the countless transformations of village halls, youth centres and cricket pavilions and more.
HOWEVER the scheme is under threat (3). We desperately need your help to ensure local community projects don’t lose £39million every year (4).
The Government is proposing to change the legislation so that Community Groups are no longer allowed to pay the missing 10p. Instead only Landfill Operators would be allowed to pay this. This may seem a small detail but it would in fact close down the scheme as we know it.
This is because the scheme is a voluntary one – and the cost to a Landfill Operator of having to find the 10p match funding would be significant. One major operator estimates this would amount to it having to find £500,000 of additional money each year. As a result, nearly all the main landfill operators have said they will not be able to find such money. They would therefore stop using the system of tax credits.
Yet local community groups have found this missing 10p in the pound time and time again. Finding match funding has never been a barrier to spending from the Landfill Communities Fund - in fact it is already oversubscribed at least twofold.
So, for no good reason, people and wildlife stand to lose millions (£39m in 2016-17 to be precise). And the country stands to lose a great ‘polluter pays’ scheme that is one of the biggest sources of funding for wildlife and community projects.
How you can help
Respond to the Government LCF consultation
If you are part of a community that has benefitted from a Landfill Communities grant and/or have the time to get more involved, please respond to the Treasury consultation on the statutory instrument necessary to implement proposed changes. The consultation is here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-legislation-the-landfil... and the deadline is 3 February 2016. The Wildlife Trusts are calling for the clauses in the statutory instrument that relate to this change to be removed - clauses 6, 8 (a,bii, biii, c & d), 9 and 10).
In light of the economic conditions, the Treasury has been keen to ensure that the Landfill Community Fund is spent as quickly as possible - to pump money in to the economy.
The Treasury therefore challenged Landfill Community Fund bodies to reduce the amount of grant funds they were holding in their banks. Most funders met the challenge, with a minority failing to largely because of funds committed for longer term projects not yet being released. But despite their efforts the Treasury’s overall spending target was not met. The Treasury was not happy and so last year HMRC ran a consultation asking for ideas for increasing the speed of spending.
Some of respondents to the 2015 consultation highlighted the regulatory bureaucracy around the 10p for every pound they were finding. Others said it would be great not to have to fundraise for this 10p at all. No-one said they would prefer nothing to a 90% grant for their project. Yet these consultation responses are being used by the Treasury to justify the new proposals - proposals which would all but close down the scheme.
- £1.3bn is the figures for 2014-15
- The precise figures are that 4.2% of the total tax is open to a 90% tax diversion
- In England, Wales and N.Ireland (Scottish landfill tax is fully devolved and the tax will be devolved to the Welsh Government in 2018).
- £39m is the figure that COULD be allocated to community projects in the year 2016-17. Every year this figure changes as a result of a new “diversion” rate agreed by the Treasury. For 2016-17 this is 4.2%.
Above: A guided walk to learn about lowland meadow habitats in Kent. Funding from Biffa Award (through the Landfill Communities Fund) helped increase lowland meadow habitat by 36% across the Kent.
Above: Birmingham Open Media. Funding from the Landfill Communites Fund has transformed a derelict building into a gallery and events space and changed an eyesore into a bright, welcoming place for the community.
Above: The Landfill Communities Fund helped to improve the clubhouse at the well loved Springhill Cricket Club. Catering and toilet facilities have allowed them to hold more events and cater for larger numbers