ESA urges councils to rethink bringing waste services in-house

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), a trade association representing the UK’s resource and waste management industry, has today (10 April) launched a campaign to promote the use of outsourcing by councils as a way to make cost savings and drive innovation in waste service delivery.

Accompanying the launch of the campaign is a briefing paper called ‘Delivering best value through competition’, which details what the ESA feels are the advantages of opening competitive tenders to the private sector over bringing waste services back in-house or using a ‘Teckal’ company, an arms-length company that is owned by the local authority.

Several local authorities have made the move to bring their waste services back in-house as a way of driving down costs and extricating themselves from inflexible long-term contracts with waste management providers. In February this year, Blackpool Borough Council announced it would be bringing its service back in-house to ‘achieve significant savings and give the Council increased control and oversight of a key service’, following the example set by authorities such as those in Slough, Powys, East Cambridgeshire, Rushmoor and Bristol.

ESA members are growing increasingly concerned by this pattern, and the ESA asserts in its briefing paper that competition and contestability in a market setting is the best way for councils to deliver value to their residents through driving down costs and incentivising innovation in service delivery.