MPA calls for better targeting of ALSF funding
NEW research by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) has revealed that local communities are failing to benefit fully from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF), the main purpose of which is to support community and environmental improvement schemes in areas affected by aggregates extraction.
In the last eight years since its introduction (2002/3 to 2009/10) the Aggregates Levy has raised a total of £2,500 million. Of this total, £168.1 million (6.7%) has been used to finance the ALSF, of which £18.95 million has been allocated to, and spent by, local authorities. This means that the proportion of the Levy going to benefit communities in quarrying areas is less than 1% (0.75%) of total Aggregates Levy revenue.
The MPA is calling for ALSF spending on local communities in quarrying areas to be at least 33% and up to 50% of the total annual fund per annum from 2011/12 onwards, and for measures to be introduced to ensure that this funding is used for its intended purpose – to directly benefit local communities in quarrying areas – and not diverted for other spending as is currently sometimes the case.
Simon van der Byl, executive director of the MPA, said: ‘We believe that the key use of the Fund should be for local communities and therefore government must focus more resource in this area. The record of using less than 1% per annum of the Aggregates Levy revenue for local community benefit is far too low.’
However, the MPA said it had been encouraged by recent comments by Environment Minister Dan Norris, who indicated that his department would look at better targeting of ALSF into quarrying communities.
Speaking at a Parliamentary debate on 30 March, Mr Norris said: ‘…should Defra be in a position to continue the Fund beyond 2010/11, I have asked my officials to consider the option of targeting the communities element so that moneys for local communities reach those most affected by aggregates extraction.’
Mr van der Byl added: ‘For as long as the Aggregates Levy remains in force, we will continue to place high emphasis on the proper distribution of the ALSF. We will be making representation to the new Government to both retain the Fund and give local communities a fairer share of the tax take.’