North Herts and Stevenage councils have spoken out about Herts County Council’s recent decision to cut £1.5 million from the amount it gives to district and borough councils to reward kerbside recycling.

The county council has operated the reward scheme since 2008 - giving more than £33 million back to 10 authorities in the county over 12 years.

However, on Monday last week - during Recycle Week 2019 - it was agreed that the amount available would be cut by £500,000 a year for the next three years.

NHDC has said it will continue to work towards reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, despite the county council's plans.

Councillor Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg, executive member for recycling and waste management at NHDC, said: "The alternative financial model funding from Hertfordshire County Council has enabled us to implement a number of initiatives over the last few years including the introduction of kitchen caddies and weekly collections for food waste, kerbside boxes for paper, and mixed recycling. We will now continue to build on this work and the opportunities that the funding gave us, encouraging North Hertfordshire residents to recycle and reduce their waste, so that less waste ends up in landfill.

"However, any reduction in the funding that the council receives reduces the initiatives it can fund and may create funding pressures in the medium term.

"Recycling and waste services that we deliver on a day-to-day basis will not be affected."

District and borough councils had urged the county council to delay the reduction, or to spread it over a longer period.

This comes as district and borough councils stated that they are already being hit financially by a fall in demand for recyclable materials and they have warned the move will damage the relationship with the county council.

However, the county council has said the move reflects the level of additional savings it is required to make - particularly to support adult care and children's services.

Stevenage Borough Council's environment and regeneration executive, Councillor John Gardner said: "We acknowledge the financial pressures that Herts County Council faces to cover the costs of providing adult and child social services, and recognise why the funds have been redirected in this way.

"However, we are disappointed that Herts County Council's new model to share savings among councils will potentially result in a reduction to the recycling funding we receive. As a result, we will be reviewing how our future recycling initiatives will be impacted."

The reward scheme - known as the alternative financial model - works by redistributing savings accrued to the county council, in its role as waste collection authority, as a direct result of better kerbside recycling practices of the districts and boroughs.

Ten per cent of these savings are kept by the county council, with the rest shared according to the size of the authority and the 'in year performance' - calculating the savings made by each authority compared to the year before.

Last year £4.147 million was passed to districts and boroughs, with £577,153 awarded to North Herts and £236,755 for Stevenage - the smallest payment of all local authorities.

The largest payment, of £836,469, was awarded to St Albans, while Welwyn Hatfield received £299,437 and Hertsmere were given £577,153.

Further afield in Broxbourne £397,977 was awarded, while East Herts were given £330,141.

Over the past three years the county council has kept back £1m from the scheme - at a rate of £333,000 a year, and is set to reduce the amount available.

At the meeting, Councillor Terry Hone, executive member for waste management at HCC, said they had needed to look at what they could contribute towards the funding required "to maintain the high level of care currently adults and children in our community".

He suggested that not every council had always used the funds from the scheme, as intended, to increase their recycling rates.

Ka Ng, corporate director for Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said in a written response on behalf of all councils that the planned reduction came as the districts were suffering "significant budget pressures" from falling demand for recyclate materials.

Last year the cost of waste disposal to the county council was £44.1m. By 2022/2023 it is expected to increase by a further £8m.