Budget proposals for 2014-15 – what does this mean for the library service?


From the BCC White Paper published on 9th December 2013


The City Council yesterday published its Budget proposals for 2014-15 and opened a short formal consultation period running into the New Year. Further cuts of £88m are proposed for the next financial year.

Sir Albert Bore went out of his way to mention Community Libraries when he rolled off a list of services at threat from the cuts on Midlands Today yesterday.

There are two parts to cuts affecting the Library service in Birmingham. Firstly, there are the cuts to the Strategic Management service including the Library of Birmingham, and secondly there are the devolved cuts which have been delegated to the District Committee’s which will directly affect the Community Libraries.

From information shared at Birmingham against the cuts meeting yesterday upto 50 jobs are at risk within the proposed cuts to the Library of Birmingham. Please note the suggestion of possible ‘further changes to the Library’s operating arrangements’.

Cuts to the Book fund will impact on all libraries across the city. They have moved forward with proposals contained in the ‘Inclusive Communities’ Green Paper to cut the Mobile Library service and Library service at home, although the White Paper notes that in response to the Green Paper that there ‘strong support for the Home library service’. (p21)

The ‘District saving’, please read cut, for 2014-15 is £5.7m and this rises to £8.5m in 2015-16. As these cuts have been delegated to the District Committee’s to make we do not know at this stage what the specific proposals are regarding the Community Libraries. 

There is only the recommendation that the District Committee’s follow the ‘methodology is also set out within the Developing Successful and Inclusive Communities Review for undertaking local reviews as well as a list of issues for Districts including assets and buildings, shared delivery of services and self service, volunteering and partnership working’ . 

The following are two excerpts from the White Paper which can be found pp 76-77:

’44. Library of Birmingham (including Mobile and Housebound Service)
The saving of £1.65m in 2014-15 will be met in part from:-
Reducing the Mobile Library Service by one third of current stops (£40,000)
Reducing the Library Service at Home by one fifth of visits (£60,000) affecting 400 people
Further reducing expenditure on the Book Fund (£50,000)
Ceasing to provide events and exhibitions where these involve a net cost to the Council (£150,000)

The Library of Birmingham Development Trust was set up to provide funds to support the LoB. Achieving the £1.35m balance of savings may require a combination of the Trust making a contribution to support the LoB, and further changes to the Library’s operating arrangements. It will be necessary to keep progress under review and consider contingency plans, including reducing the opening hours or further reducing the services provided.

The building has only recently opened and some core costs are as yet untested. In future years, the running costs of the LoB will be more certain. These may provide options for savings without affecting service delivery to the public, but conversely may create additional pressures, and this will be kept under review. A review of future fundraising potential and actual expenditure based on performance in the first year of operation will inform future business planning. 

45. District Savings
District Committees will review their service provision to identify future service savings. This will be a matter for determination by the 10 District Committees.
Districts will need to take into account the principles and priorities set out in the Developing Successful and Inclusive Communities Green Paper. General principles for all services include:
Improving community life, building social capital and improving wellbeing and community engagement
Bringing about joined up services, better targeting of services and prevention’

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