scrap metal act

Man & Van Waste Carriers Escape Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013

30 June 2014

Guidelines recently released for Local Authorities by the LGA (Local Government Association) seem to conclude that man & van waste clearance businesses do not need a scrap dealer license under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 provided collection and sale of scrap is only an incidental part of their business.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 follows on from various changes introduced in 2012 which banned cash payments for scrap metal, changed the police’s powers of entry into unregistered scrap metal sites, and increased the financial penalties for offences in the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. These legislative reforms came about as a result of a Home Office investigation into the theft of metal in the UK which estimated it cost the economy around £500m annually.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, which becomes law from 1 December 2013, redefines the licensing framework for scrap dealers, their reporting and disclosure obligations. Anyone coming within the definition of a scrap dealer (site based or mobile) must have a scrap dealer license for the local authority areas they wish to work in. Licenses are issued by each local authority and costs around £100 – £300. So, if a mobile collector covers multiple areas, they will need to get a license from every local authority they operate in. In addition, scrap dealers must submit Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) documents (formerly a Criminal Records Bureau or CRB check) and keep written records of their dealings. Dealing in scrap metal without a license after 1 December 2013 is a criminal offence with a maximum fine of £5,000.

All very onerous and expensive stuff. But does it mean that man and van companies up and down the country must apply for multiple scrap dealer licenses and take on a whole new level of administrative burden? Thankfully, the answer seems to be “No” according to guidance to local authorities released by the Local Government Association entitled LGA Guide to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

The guidance looks at which types of operators fall within the definition of a ‘scrap dealer’ under the new Act and hence require a license. It specifically considers skip hire companies (the closest comparable to a man and van waste business) and concludes that a skip hire company is not a scrap dealer if “the sale of scrap metal is incidental to the main type of work or business undertaken”. In other words, providing the sale of scrap is not an integral part of your business, the provisions of the Act will not apply. So, it seems that unless you spend more time as a waste carrier paying to collect waste than you do charging to collect it – you should be fine. Which, I’m sure for legitimate clearance companies everywhere around the UK, including ourselves, is a great relief!

NOTE: More information on this subject is available at Licensing Resource, a free resource website for UK Local Authority officers.

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