What has Labour-run Sheffield City Council (or Labour-run Manchester or Bristol where Labour has more councillors than anyone else) got against students? Why does it believe that students should pay an extra levy to have their dustbins emptied?
Students don't pay Council Tax but the local government finance system makes allowance for this. The more student household's a council has, the more central government grant the council is paid. Indeed, if there is extra student accomodation a council will be paid New Homes Bonus – as well as extra money for emptying the bins.
Yet some councils are trying to impose an extra charge. They are effectively trying to be paid twice. They would charge student landlords a fee to have the bins collected, while still claiming this cost from central government. It amounts to a Student Tax rather than a genuine charge of the kind that shops pay for business waste collection. It would mean either landlords passing on the cost for higher rent, or refusing to pay and allowing an explosion of flytipping as students find their rubbish goes uncollected.
The Star reports:
"Sheffield is one of only three councils to be considering the practice – with Manchester and Bristol the other two.
Ministers say it has been legally determined that student households are domestic residences and so their occupants are exempt from council tax.
And in a letter to the council they highlight how forcing the cost of waste collection onto students to try to raise income would lead to a rise in fly-tipping and illegal dumping of waste.
They argue that the end result could, perversely, leave the council financially worse off in the long run due to clean-up costs.
Mr Pickles said the practice of so-called ‘back door’ bin charging went against the intentions of regulations that allow for local authorities to charge for the collection and disposal of waste from a wider range of non-domestic properties than before.
Such charges should not be made on residential and student properties and ministers had made clear that they were prepared to legislate if councils insisted on continuing their ‘exploitative’ charges.
Mr Pickles said:
“Sneaky councils attempting to make a quick buck by charging hard-up students for their bin collections is the worst form of short-term thinking.
“The subsequent increase in fly-tipping and back yard burning could cost them more in the long-run and undermine community relations.”
Sheffield University student union president Ally Buckle said:
“Additional costs imposed by the council would be met with discomfort from students who are already struggling to keep their heads above water."