The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals has warned that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review will create a “perfect storm” where the demand for Government services through public libraries outstrips the capacity and funding to meet them.
As part of a raft of announcements, Government Digital Service will receive an additional £450m funding. GDS lead on transforming government services by getting more services online. At the same time 11% of the population have never used the internet and 12.6 million adults do not have basic digital skills.
Nick Poole CILIP Chief Executive said, “The Chancellor’s drive to increase Government’s digital services contrasts with his failure to recognise the role of public libraries to address the digital divide by providing internet access and helping people develop essential digital skills. The digital divide is becoming a chasm. Without adequate support through trusted library services too many of the population will be left on the wrong side. Long-term reductions to library expenditure, staffing and the number of buildings combined with increased demand for Government digital services will create a perfect storm for under-pressure library services.”
Martyn Wade Chair of CILIP Board said:
“I am profoundly disappointed that public libraries and their value to communities and the economy are entirely missing from the Chancellor’s statement and the full Autumn Statement. As statutory services which attract more than 280 million visits a year and support a range of Government agendas it’s shocking that public libraries have not been mentioned.
“In light of the additional expectations that libraries will have to meet, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport need to be clear how they will meet the Government’s legal obligations to oversee the improvement of public libraries in England. Currently the Government has no clear policy, plan or strategy in place for delivering on their legal obligations to oversee the improvement of library services in the public interest.”
While the Chancellor claimed that local authority spending will be the same in cash terms at the end of the Parliament as they are today the local government grant will reduce by £6.1bn by 2019-20. This represents a reduction in excess of 50% between 2015-16 and 2019-20. This is forecast to be offset by other sources of local authority income such as locally financed expenditure from the release of assets. CILIP will carry out further analysis to explore the impact of the Autumn Statement and Spending Review on the library and information community and the people that use our services.
Director of External Relations, CILIP
Direct line: 020 7255 0654
Mobile: 07792 635 305
Notes for editors
CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers. CILIP’s vision is a fair and economically prosperous society underpinned by literacy, access to information and the transfer of knowledge. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014. Visit www.cilip.org.uk for more information.