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Library cuts to help meet spending on care

We now know that Suffolk libraries are being cut to help pay for overspending on adult care services. £710,000 of the £1.06m libraries cuts in the next financial year is to pay for care spending in the current year.

There are difficult choices here, but why has the county council not been explicit about this when it launched its consultation on the future of libraries last week?

The new information has been winkled out of the committee papers for the Cabinet meeting next Tuesday by the East Anglian Daily times which leads on the story, Suffolk: Libraries’ closures ‘will pay for council overspending’, today (Jan 17).

The paper reports:

Suffolk County Council has said it can no longer afford to run 29 of its 44 libraries and warned they would close if communities did not come forward to take them over. The move is to make more than £2million of savings.

Bosses have said communities have until April 2013 to confirm deals to run their libraries but it has now emerged that more than £1m has to be saved in the next financial year – which will cut the existing library service by 15% and increase the pressure on local people to act.

The information is in a spreadsheet among the cabinet papers for the next meeting. To download it go to the Cabinet documents page and use the link for Annex D (Agenda Item 5).

The introduction to the libraries consultation says:

The council will be reducing the funding for libraries by greater than 30% in order to protect more essential front line services like fire services and services for vulnerable people like elderly care.

That suggested to me and, I think most other people, it was talking about future spending on care. And, in view of the latest information, what is that about the fire service?

This is what is in the spreadsheet:

Divesting libraries to communities. N.B. The total saving the library service is having to deliver in 2011/12 is £1.06m or 14.92% (£0.710m- to address the over committed care budgets in 2010/11 plus this £0.350m [from library closures/divestments]).  More savings will be required in 2012/13.

…The £1.06m equates to a service reduction of 14.92%.

Impact on the public: This could result in some library closures and is in addition to a 10% saving of £710k in the library service which was used to address the over committed care budget in 2010/11.

Deliverability: This is determined by the willingness and ability of local communities or organisations to run these services, at a lower cost, whilst maintaining satisfactory statutory levels of service. There will be a public consultation from January until April 2011 to listen to peoples views.

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