William Eichler 08 December 2016

Libraries hit by £25m in council cuts

Cash-strapped local libraries were hit by £25m worth of council cuts last year, accountancy body finds.

An annual library survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) revealed today the total expenditure on council-run library services fell from £944m (2014/15) to £919m (2015/16).

The survey also discovered the total number of visitors dropped during the same period by 5.5%--from 265 million to 250 million.

Library employment has also undergone a dramatic change over the last year, CIPFA said.

Paid library staff fell by 5.3% (18,028 to 17,064) and volunteer numbers rose by 7.5% (41,402 to 44,501).

‘This fall in library funding comes at a time of unprecedented budgetary pressures for local councils,’ said Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA.

‘In this climate really tough decisions are having to be made about all sorts of services and libraries are just one of the services bearing the brunt.

’But despite the grim outlook, libraries are continuing to transform and innovate, adapting to changing visitor habits and providing a raft of new services and offerings.’

The Government’s Libraries Taskforce last week pledged £4m to support disadvantaged communities through libraries and urged councils to consider libraries when delivering other public services.

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