Investing in the UK Knowledge Economy - CILIP Spending Review 2015

Economic Growth

In this blog post, CILIP Chief Executive Nick Poole sets out the main themes and recommendations in 'Investing in the UK Knowledge Economy', CILIP's representation to HM Treasury's Spending Review 2015 which promotes the role of libraries, research, information management and information literacy as the basis of future economic growth.

Spending Review 2015

A Spending Review is the process by which HM Treasury and HM Government set out their priorities for policy and investment under the new Parliament. 

In the launch document for Spending Review 2015, "A country that lives within its means", Chancellor George Osborne sets out his ambition for Britain to become a "higher wage, lower welfare, lower tax economy that is more productive". Rarely in postwar history has a Spending Review placed such stringent demands on Government departments - asking them to model cuts of between 25-40% of their budgets over the next few years. 

CILIP has responded to this challenge with a 'Investing in the UK Knowledge Economy' - a set of proposals which highlight the vital role of information management, information literacy, library & information professionals and world-class research in delivering future economic growth. 

Strength in diversity - the CILIP Community

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) is the largest professional body for library, information and knowledge management professionals in the UK. Our 13,000 members are part of a community of more than 112,000 professionals delivering value across all parts of the public and private sector including:

  • Higher Education
  • Schools and colleges
  • Local & National Government
  • Health & social care
  • Commercial businesses
  • Legal services
  • National Libraries
  • Not for profit/third sector
  • Prisons
  • Public Libraries
  • Research institutions
  • Cultural heritage
  • Private consultancies

Our library, information and knowledge management professionals are a key workforce in the increasingly important knowledge economy, defined by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in their 2005 study:

“Economic success is increasingly based on upon the effective utilisation of intangible assets such as knowledge, skills and innovative potential as the key resource for competitive advantage. The term “knowledge economy” is used to describe this emerging economic structure".

Britain is a world leader in the global knowledge economy. Sustaining and growing this leadership depends on making a clear and decisive investment in the future by promoting information literacy, equipping businesses with information management skills, delivering world-class research and ensuring public access to high-quality modern library and information services delivered by qualified professionals. 

Priorities for policy & investment

In our submission on behalf of the CILIP community, we have identified four key areas for policy development and funding. These draw on the work done in 2013 through the National Data Strategy and the Information Economy Strategy. The four priority areas are:

  • Information management driving business advantage
  • Knowledge and informtion delivering world-class research
  • Libraries and learning at the heart of the community
  • Information literacy for the workforce of the future

We have used the representation as an opportunity to highlight how the skills and expertise of our members adds value across society and the economy, including priority areas for the Spending Review such as devolution, security and economic stability.

CILIP's primary recommendations

Our two core recommendations are intended to encourage HM Government to plan for and invest in the long-term competitiveness of the UK economy by investing in information literacy and the management, governance and use of information as core social and commercial assets:

  • Recommendation 1: That HM Government instigate the development of a National Knowledge & Information Skills Strategy encompassing information literacy, information management, the provision of library services and an associated research & evidence framework, and;
  • Recommendation 2: That HM Government and HM Treasury instigate the creation of a Strategic Investment Fund to enable structured long-term investment in the UK’s Knowledge Infrastructure. 

Following our submission, we will be following up on these recommendations by engaging directly with Ministers and portfolio-holders across Government in Whitehall, as well as discussing the medium-term implications for our partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

The outcome of the Spending Review for England and associated policy priorities will be published on the 25th November and we will follow up at this point with information about next steps with these priorities. 



Image source: "Economic Growth" by Simon Cunningham, used under CC BY 2.0 / original cropped and resized

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