'Essential' councillors understand 'value' of libraries

'Essential' councillors understand 'value' of libraries

CILIP has called on elected members to consider the long-term social and economic impact of library services on their communities following a report into local government expenditure.

The Department for Communities & Local Government recently released provisional figures for the 2014/15 annual income and expenditure for Local Authorities in England.

The report found that the actual net reduction in local authority expenditure between 2013/14 and 2014/15 was just over 0.7% (from £96.4bn to £95.8bn), with 242 authorities increasing their reserves. In 2014/15, local authorities added £1billion to their reserves, down from 2013/14, when they added £2.4 billion to their reserves. The report also found that locally-retained income has increased while central-distributed income has decreased, but there still remains a significant gap between the two.

Responding to the report, CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals’ c.e.o. Nick Poole said: “Local authorities remain a major provider of library and information services across the UK, and these figures highlight the realities they are dealing with. With further reductions in centrally distributed revenue planned in the coming years, it is essential that elected members understand the real financial and social value of library and information services for their communities.”

According to the report, education remains one of the biggest priorities for local authorities, accounting for 30.7% of their expenditure. Poole argues that research has proven having access to a library service delivered by qualified professionals can support teachers by boosting learning outcomes, literacy and pupil attainment.

“Library services across the UK are delivering frontline support which helps reduce the pressure on health and social care services that make up some 20% of council spending,” Poole said.

CILIP noted that some authorities have been able to strengthen their reserves during the period of the report, but still urged councils to consider retaining a quality library service as a means of avoiding significant cost increases elsewhere in their expenditure before building up reserves.

The information was derived from Department for Communities and Local Government Revenue Summary Outturn returns submitted by local authorities in England.