Mark Whitehead 11 December 2017

Council spending on libraries falls by £66m in last year

Council spending on libraries falls by £66m in last year image

Spending on libraries has fallen for the seventh year running because of the squeeze on council funding, according to financial experts.

CIPFA says total expenditure on council-run libraries fell by £66m last year, paid staff numbers were down 5% and there were 105 fewer libraries.

During the same time period visits to libraries fell by 3%, adding to a 14% decline over five years.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said libraries were the 'low hanging fruit' for councils to make savings, but had proved they are important community assets.

In its annual survey, CIPFA says that while library resources continue to bear the brunt of austerity, the support they have received to fill resource gaps, including specific grants from the Government and other bodies, rose last year by 6%.

Volunteer numbers increased by 8%, making a total rise of 43% since 2012.

Mr Whiteman said: 'Cuts in local authority funding are forcing councils to make difficult choices about which services they can afford.

'Unfortunately for libraries and library users, this is a low hanging fruit that continues to be picked.

'But it isn’t all doom and gloom, as libraries are continuing to modernise while volunteer numbers have increased, proving that libraries remain an important community asset.'

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