Support our Libraries: Labour hits out at SNP on its funding record

Scottish Labour has accused the SNP of “gutting local communities” after new analysis revealed cuts to local government have led to libraries losing out on more than £250 million in the last decade.

The party has cited figures from the Improvement Service’s Local Government Benchmarking Framework, which showed that by 2020/21, real-terms cumulative cuts to the net expenditure on libraries had hit £257,125,000 over the last 10 years.

The reduction in net expenditure means annual spending was 36 per cent lower in 2020/21 than it was in the 2010/11 period.

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Labour has said the information “proves the SNP can’t be trusted with local government” ahead of the Scottish local council elections on 5 May.

Campaigns to reopen closed libraries in Glasgow in August 2021. Picture: John Devlin/JPIMedia
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The data also shows that since the last local government ballot, which took place in 2017, the cumulative cuts up until 2020/21 amounted to more than £18.6 million. Scottish Labour’s local government spokesperson Mark Griffin accused the SNP of making it clear “they aren’t interested in protecting local services”.

Mr Griffin said: “The SNP have gutted local communities and treated local government with utter contempt.

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“Year after year of brutal cuts have left a black hole in libraries funding – and this is the case for so many local services.

“The SNP have delivered a hammer blow to Scotland’s communities and abandoned the next generation with these cuts to libraries and other services.

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Sean McNamara, head of The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland. Picture: Contributed

“They have made it clear they aren’t interested in protecting local services and building stronger communities – and they cannot be trusted with councils.”

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Sean McNamara, head of the The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland, added: "Years of avoidable cuts to library services has left many services struggling to deliver what their communities desperately need.

"Libraries are well used and provide equitable access to books and IT, support vital community cohesion and improve health and wellbeing but many have to do this with less every year.

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"This issue is not particular to one party but is no longer acceptable and the public deserve better. Libraries are essential to a post-pandemic society but they need both support from councils and a local government funding model that allows that to happen.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said that “local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure there is adequate provision of library services for their residents”.

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He added: “The 2022-23 local government funding package of almost £12.7 billion provides a cash increase of £1.1 billion, or a real terms increase of £731.4 million.

“Furthermore the Scottish Government’s £1.25 million Public Library Covid Relief Fund, announced in September 2021, is now supporting 30 projects around the country to reconnect communities with their libraries.

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“We will continue to support our libraries to provide invaluable resources to their local communities through our annual Public Libraries Improvement Fund.”



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