Socitm: ‘Nonsensical’ fees and ‘deficient’ partner websites holding back councils’ online bulky waste collection services

Sixty percent of council websites do not provide a good online service for people to arrange the collection of bulky waste, according to results from the latest Socitm Better Connected survey.

Just over half of council websites make it clear if they will collect a mattress – Photo credit: Flickr, Erich Ferdinand, CC BY 2.0

The survey, which is part of a wider annual assessment carried out by the association of IT professionals in local government, looked at the mobile websites of 356 councils across the UK.

It found a range of issues with bulky waste collection services, with just 40% of councils providing a good or very good service. This figure is caused in part by the fact that 16% of the sample did not have websites purposed for mobile use, which means the test could not be carried out at all.

However, the survey also concluded there was a lack of clarity on a number of crucial questions, including on which items and how many could be collected during a single booking and how far in advance the booking needed to be made – the latter of which was passed by just 25.8% of the councils.

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One of the essential questions – which councils have to pass if they are to meet the standard set for the task – was that it was clear if a mattress could be collected, which was only passed by 55.5% of the councils.

Socitm also branded some of the councils’ charging arrangements as “nonsensical” and over-complicated, with terms that it said residents could not understand or estimate.

Examples of this included in the report include charging by “half or full lorry load”, by how easily it could be lifted by two men and another by time slots of just 15 minutes.

“It is hard to imagine these sorts of narratives surviving even the most basic user testing,” Socitm said.

The survey also found that a number of councils had outsourced the collection of bulky waste to charities or businesses that collect things for free if they can be recycled.

This, Socitm said, was an “excellent move”, but noted that many of these services “are really deficient” at providing information online, “let alone online booking and fulfilment”.

Socitm called on councils to make digital services part of the outsourcing agreement, and require that their partner matches best practice in online service provision.

The report recommended a series of good practice, which included that all information was provided on the web pages, not embedded in forms; that all information about alternatives were clearly visible and that there was precision about which items would be collected.

It recommended ten sites for very good content, including Angus, Blaby, Shepway and West Lancashire.


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