Charity shops may close and good causes lose over £3m a year in London if councils go ahead with plans to charge rental space for bins which collect old clothes.
The high street big names in charity shops including the British Heart Foundation, Traid and Scope are angry about a proposal that could see London councils charging as much as £1,500 a year to rent the square of pavement a charity box sits on. At the moment, charities position their own bins in key locations, collect the donated clothes and then either sell them in their shops or sell the material for recycling. In London alone, the charities say that more than £3m is raised for projects in the capital and overseas.
Around 17 London councils are considering a proposal which would see all bins going out to tender. The winning company would then recycle the clothing and pay the councils a percentage of the profit. There are currently 400 bins in London: if all councils joined the scheme they would make over half a million pounds between them from clothes now donated to charity by Londoners.
The Charity Retail Association says as well as taking funds away from projects for disadvantaged people and from medical research, the scheme would hit jobs. 400 are employed by the charities, and 160 shops could be hit.
The umbrella organisation representing the councils says it is aware of the impact this could have on some charities. London Councils says it is talking to the charities, but adds: "During these times of austerity, it is crucial that councils provide value for money for London taxpayers."
London Councils says the reason for exploring a London-wide contract for textile banks is also to try to reduce the vast amount of fabric disposed of in landfill every year.
The new charge for recycling say, an old shirt, may add fuel to the argument forwarded by some that councils will even have the shirt off your back….or at least a percentage of it.