I absolutely agree that that needs to happen.
Reports of fly-tipping are increasing across the country. In Birmingham alone, the council received 38,142 reports of fly-tipping between May 2021 and May 2022. Fly-tipping is against the Brummie spirit. Our Labour council has been right to take a zero-tolerance approach, introducing a £400 fixed penalty notice for everyone caught dumping rubbish illegally. It has successfully taken some of the most serious offenders to court, but the increasing demand for enforcement action is coming after almost a decade of austerity-driven cuts. Those have created the most challenging period in the council’s history, as funding for vital services has been cut by a staggering £775 million since 2010.
We have some amazing local organisations in our community, such as the Erdington Litter Busters, who are doing their bit to tackle illegal dumping, but we should not have to rely on community groups to make our streets cleaner and greener. It is clear that councils need more resources, and I hope the Minister will be able to outline today specific support to help our local authorities tackle fly-tipping, because it has become an epidemic.
I want to turn to a specific issue blighting our constituency, which indirectly leads to fly-tipping and illegal dumping. In Erdington, the community has seen an alarming increase in houses in multiple occupation and exempt accommodation, with the second-highest level in the city. One example is Kings Road in Stockland Green, where more than 27 out of 85 houses are in multiple occupancy. With such a high concentration of properties, which can often be full of strangers, some in large families or with complex mental health issues, it is no surprise that we have seen an increase in antisocial behaviour, drug dealing and fly-tipping.
Birmingham City Council has once again done what it can, by applying for a selective landlord licensing scheme to be introduced in 25 of the 69 wards in the city. The largest landlord licensing application in the country, Birmingham’s scheme has not yet been approved by the Government. I hope the Minister will indicate today that the Government will give it the green light, as that will greatly help the council to tackle rogue landlords and, in turn, reduce fly-tipping in our area.
I would like to finish by saying something positive. I welcomed the Government’s announcement in March that they plan to introduce minimum standards for properties in the private rented sector, and new powers for local authorities to clamp down on rogue landlords. As ever, the devil is in the detail, and I hope the Minister can elaborate on those plans in today’s debate, as all those measures will help to reduce fly-tipping.
As a former councillor in Birmingham, I know how much the local authority is crying out for more powers and funding to help it beat the curse of illegal rubbish being dumped in our communities. It is such a huge problem in my constituency that tackling it will be one of my key priorities in Parliament. Today, we need the resources from the Government, not hot air and empty promises.