William Eichler 06 December 2019

Decade of austerity sees dramatic drop in library spending

Ten years of cuts to public services has seen a nearly 30% drop in library spending, new research has revealed.

Data released today by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has shown a 29.6% decline in spend on libraries since austerity began in 2009/10.

National spending on libraries topped £1bn in 2009/10, but dropped to under £750m in 2018/19.

The total number of paid staff has reduced since 2014/15 by 15.1% (from 18,028 to 15,300), CIPFA found, while the number of volunteers has increased by 24.3% (from 41,402 to 51,478).

‘Today’s findings show a sustained trend in which many services have been cut or redesigned, with councils’ ever-decreasing funds directed to priority areas such as social care,’ said Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO.

‘This is the shape of today’s local authorities. As the country prepares to go to the polls, candidates should be having honest conversations with the public about the role of local government, and the future of lower priority services such as libraries.’

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