The government’s waste reforms will have ‘a significant financial and operational impact’ on Chichester District Council.
The warning was issued by Mark Chilton, cabinet member for finance, during a meeting of the full council on Tuesday (November 28).
The reforms, which include the need for local authorities to start collecting food waste, become mandatory from April 2026.
But the big problem for councils all over the country is how on earth they will pay for the new service.
Figures between £500,000 and £1.8m have been mooted by councils in West Sussex.
Either figure would place a huge strain on already stretched budgets and, with funding for local government being hacked back over the past decade, the autumn budget statement offered no respite.
Mr Chilton said: “The prospects for future funding settlements do not look good – there is no money.”
The district council is in a much better financial position than some authorities.
Nottingham City Council has become the 13th to issue a section 114 notice – essentially declaring itself bankrupt – since 2018.
Chichester, though, has forecast that it will balance its budget in 2024/25 – but things will soon change for the worse.
The council’s financial strategy & plan up to 2028/29 shows a surplus of £484k in the next financial year and another surplus in 2025/26 – although the latter comes with ‘a great deal of uncertainty’.
After that, the figures look less healthy with a budget gap of more than £1.6m forecast for 2026/27 which could widen to more than £3.1m in 2028/29.
Speaking earlier in November, Mr Chilton said: “The reason we’ll move into deficit is not because this council is going to be inefficient.
“It is purely because of the projected loss of government funding, totally and entirely.”
The financial strategy is reviewed each year to help the council spot any funding gaps at an early stage.
One such review in 2020 saw £8m moved to the revenue budget to deal with any financial issues raised by the pandemic.
That money was not touched, so it was agreed that it be moved back into the general fund reserve.