Councils slash library budgets by £30m, survey reveals

buildingThe number of libraries across the country has continued to decline as cash-strapped councils reduce their spending on the service and rely more on volunteers, a new survey has revealed.

image LocalGov website

LocalGov writes:

CIPFA’s annual library survey has found that spending by local authorities on public libraries fell by £30m in 2017/18. The survey also showed that 127 service points were closed down this year, with the loss of 712 full time employees. This follows a trend which has seen the number of public libraries and paid staff fall every year since 2010, with spending reduced by 12% in Britain in the last four years. Visitor numbers have also continued to decline with a 10 million drop this year to 233 million visitors.

‘Libraries have faced significant cuts under austerity, with councils forced to reduce spending on all ‘non-essential’ services across the board,’ said Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO…

Libraries have increasingly relied on volunteers to keep providing for their local communities. CIPFA’s survey found that 51,394 volunteers worked 1,780,843 hours in 2017/18. ‘A lack of funds is forcing many councils to get creative in how they deliver their services, and we find in our public libraries this loss of paid employees is creating a reliance on volunteers…

‘Similar cost shifting is happening across almost all local government services, with communities finding everything from legal aid to green waste collection no longer as accessible…

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