Investigation into government’s actions to combat waste crime in England - National Audit Office

Government does not have the data it needs to assess the scale of waste crime in England, and the incentives for criminals to enter the waste market have increased, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The 25-Year Environment Plan, published in 2018, states government’s ambition to eliminate waste crime and illegal waste sites in England within 25 years (by 2043).1 The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) set out its approach to tackling waste crime in the Resources and Waste Strategy (the Strategy), and the Environment Agency (the Agency) is responsible for investigating waste crime. The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (the Joint Unit) was established in January 2020 to tackle serious and organised crime in the waste sector and consists of nine strategic partner organisations.

Defra and the Agency understand the nature of waste crime but recognise that the data they collect does not reflect its full extent. They have committed to improving how they measure waste crime, including through electronic tracking. Today’s NAO report finds:

The large rise in the standard rate of landfill tax2 has increased the returns criminals can potentially make from certain types of waste crime. The rise in landfill tax saw the amount of waste sent to landfill reduce by 75% between 2010-11 and 2020-21. At the same time, there has been an increase in the money criminals can make by avoiding landfill tax through the misdescription of waste, illegal waste sites, and some types of fly-tipping. HM Revenue & Customs estimates that in 2019-20, £200 million of landfill tax was not paid through non-compliance.

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Posted On: 27/04/2022

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