Library cuts 'worse in deprived north'

Library cuts 'worse in deprived north'

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has warned that library services could become a postcode lottery, as a new report shows that deprived areas in England and Scotland are being worst hit.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation interim report, Coping with Cuts? Local Government and Poorer Communities, shows poorer areas of England and Scotland are facing cuts of £100 per head more than affluent areas.

The report calculates that local government spending is set to fall by 30% in real terms between 2008 and 2015 in England. As well as cuts disproportionately affecting poorer areas, cuts are also having a great impact on the north than on the south, with a difference of £69 per head. The report also warns that councils are running out of places to make efficiency savings, leading to more cuts on frontline services, such as libraries.

Phil Bradley, CILIP president, said there was a danger of creating postcode lotteries. He said:  “Despite the fact that a comprehensive library service is a legal requirement too many Councils are running roughshod over the needs and wishes of their communities in a short sighted attempt to save a small amount of money at devastating cost to the community both in the short and long term.”

He added: "All too often the library is viewed as an easy target to save money, and the incorrect idea that a community run library by volunteers is a cheap alternative is heard more and more. If people are lucky enough to live in an area where a Council recognises the value and importance of a library service to the community, they have continued access to the resources, which makes for a better, more prosperous and literate community. However, in other areas, people are being denied access to knowledge and information which can help them throughout their lives."