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Brown bin fee in Highlands set to rise by £5 again

By Andrew Dixon

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Brown bin fee set to rise again. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Brown bin fee set to rise again. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Figures suggest the Highlands’ brown bin scheme is making more money this year – and the fee for the fortnightly service is set to rise again.

Figures obtained by the Courier via a Freedom of Information request show that the £5 price rise to £45 per brown bin for collections of garden waste has increased income, although more than 2000 permits for the scheme were not renewed.

The charge is expected to rise to £50 per bin for 2021/22 if approved by Highland councillors this week.

The service is on course to make a profit of £486,109 this financial year but that is around £15,000 less than in 2018/19, when people were charged £35 per brown bin.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council’s garden waste/brown bin service is a discretionary service. In 2019, the council did agree to a £5 annual increase in each of the next three years which would mean that another £5 increase would be levied in the next year.

“However, we are aware of the price inelasticity for this service and any change proposed for next year will be considered in the budget proposals which are currently being developed and will be presented to council on March 4 for consideration.”

The council collected garden waste for free prior to 2017 when a £30 per brown bin emptying opt-in charge was introduced.

According to the council, it brought in £915,570 from 30,519 permits in its first year and spent £28,703 on posting stickers to residents to put on their bins to show they had paid. No staff, fuel or vehicle costs were recorded for 2017/18.

When the cost increased to £35 in 2018/19, income rose to £1,198,650 while the number of permits increased to 31,390 and posting stickers costs fell to £26,898. Staff costs were £377,515, vehicle costs were £217,597 and £75,530 was spent on fuel.

For 2019/20, the fee increased to £40 but income dipped to £1,195,200, with 29,800 permits sold. Posting stickers costs fell to £25,759. Staff costs increased to £388,735, vehicle costs rose to £223,558 and fuel costs went up to £77,071.

Up to December 31, 2020 with the charge now at £45, income increased to £1,215,315 while permit sales dropped to 27,120 and posting stickers costs dipped to £23,794. But there have been further increases for staff costs (to £396,668), vehicle costs (to £229,290) and fuel costs (to £79,454).

Permits for 2020/21 are available until June and they expire on August 31. A maximum of three permits are allowed per household.

Related Article: Highland Council puts up price of brown bin scheme and says income is critical to protecting jobs

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