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No mention of fall in spending on street cleaning

Spurious Highways England figures given credence by DEFRA

Research and analysis – Litter and littering in England 2016 to 2017 – Published 12 February 2018

This seems to be a pointless document.

It is largely about measuring litter. But what is the point? We know there is a massive problem but nothing meaningful seems to be being done to remedy the problem – just more reports, strategy documents etc – like this one.

Street cleaning expenditure by councils

The report states that local authorities spent £682 million on street cleaning in 2016/17

What it does not say is that this was a fall of 12% on the previous year and a further fall is budgeted for the current year.  Read more here

Spending by Highways England

It goes on to say “In addition Highways England spends at least £6 million a year on collecting litter from the Strategic Road Network”

This implies there is some purposeful, costed and controlled activity going on which is simply not the case.

While the DfT of course provides Highways England with funding to cover or maintenance work no specific amount is identified as being for litter collection.  HE follow the same procedure with their contractors. HE do not therefore know how much they are paying them for litter collection.

The contractors in turn do not know how much they are spending as they do not employ dedicated staff to carry out litter collection. As one depot manager described it to me litter-picking was as a fill-in job that their skilled staff carried out when they had nothing else to do.

The figure of £6.0 million I suspect is based on multiplying the number of bags of litter collected pa of 200,000 by a cost per bag of £30. But where has this cost/bag – its often quoted as £40 – come from. HE simply asked their contractors how much they thought they were spending on litter picking and then divided this by the number of bags collected.  In other words the £6.0 million  is simply a figure off the top of the heads of the contractors!

Peter Silverman
20th June 2018



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