Cash ban for itinerant traders to become law

Itinerant scrap metal traders face a ban on cash transactions when the new Scrap Metal Dealers Bill becomes law, enforcing rules already in place at licensed scrapyards.

The bill has now passed all its parliamentary stages, having undergone its final reading in the House of Lords on 12th February. All that remains is for it to receive Royal Assent, which means that it could become law by October 2013. When enforced, it will ensure that no cash transactions take place when scrap metal is sold to dealers, whether the buyer is a scrapyard or an itinerant trader.

The aim of the bill, initiated by Conservative MP Richard Ottaway, was to tackle metal theft, and has received widespread backing. Many in the industry, as well as the police, local authorities, and ministers, are in favour of the proposals set out by the bill, which will mean that scrapyards and itinerant traders will operate under the same conditions.

In addition to a compulsory local authority licensing scheme, where all scrap dealers will need to pay a fee and display their licence, and the prohibition of all cash transactions, councils will have the power to refuse, revoke, and vary licences. Unlicensed premises will face closure and dealers will face unlimited fines for not holding a licence, failing to keep records, and dealing in cash. People selling metal will have to produce verifiable identification, which will be kept on file for two years. The Environment Agency will also keep a national, public register of dealers.

The reforms set out in the bill have been described as “a comprehensive and modern system for running the metal recycling industry” by Councillor Mehboob Khan, Chairman of the Local Government Association Safer and Stronger Communities Board.

“Now that the bill has passed through Parliament, we look forward to working with the Home Office and councils to make sure the system is up and running as quickly as possible,” added Cllr Khan.

The British Metal Recycling Association’s Director General, Ian Hetherington, agreed that the bill ought to become law soon, so as to “eradicate the industry of unscrupulous dealers who act as conduits for stolen metal”. He welcomes the itinerant trader cash ban, viewing the current situation as having created “an uneven playing field which allows criminal activity to continue to thrive at the expense of legitimate businesses.” Richard Ottaway himself is pleased with the bill’s success, seeing it as a blow to “opportunistic thieves who know they can get rid of stolen metals at rogue or negligent scrap yards”.

Recycling Lives joins Mr Ottaway, Mr Hetherington and Cllr Khan in supporting the reforms to the scrap metal trade. We have previously reported on the progress of the new bill, welcoming the benefits it will bring to the entire industry. With its firm commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, the Recycling Lives social business is, by nature, in favour of legislation that benefits the community and the local economy. It is better for everyone if it is harder for criminals to gain from stealing power cables and roofing material, the theft of which seriously affects transport, hospitals and buildings in the community.

When the cash ban came into force for scrapyards last year, Recycling Lives had already planned ahead, building upon its previous partnership work with the police to tackle metal theft through Operation Tornado. We revamped our systems and procedures, ensuring compliance whilst providing first-class customer service. We urge everyone to join Recycling Lives in supporting the new legislation and working towards a better scrap metal industry.