§ Dr. Stoate
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will announce how the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund will be distributed. 
§ Mr. Meacher
I am pleased to announce today the arrangements for the distribution of the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund. Local authorities in every region of England (apart from London which is being handled separately) will receive a total of £42 million in 2002–03 from the fund to kick start new projects. The money will go to schemes that improve recycling, complement municipal waste management strategies and contribute to a better quality of life for residents.759W
From over 190 applications to the fund for 2002–03, 112 schemes were approved by DEFRA with the assistance of an expert panel. Details of the successful schemes will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses shortly when the local authorities have been informed. We are now inviting applications for grants from the fund for 2003–04 when £76.3 million will be available; almost double the amount for 2002–03.
The national fund prioritises five key areas:
- improving partnership initiatives between authorities;
- contributing to high performance, innovation and best practice;
- establishing a challenge fund for general projects;
- developing community initiatives;
- turning around low recycling performance.
Overall, England recycled just 10 per cent. of its household rubbish in 1999–2000—one of the lowest rates in Europe and we are taking action to improve this. We have set a target of 25 per cent. recycling by 2005–06 and have allocated £19.9 million from the fund for helping turn around low performance and £12.5 million for partnership working. The assistance given by this fund will help some of the lowest performers in their efforts to reach a minimum recycling rate of 10 per cent. in 2003–04.
Neighbourhood renewal is also a key area of Government policy and over half of the 88 NRU local authorities in England are low recycling performers. 21 NRU local authorities were approved for direct grant in 2002–03, amounting to a total of some £14 million.
We will be publishing revised guidance for the submission of bids to the fund for 2003–04 very shortly on DEFRA' s website.