Libraries in decline
The report found that a quarter of authorities in England and Wales did not operate a service. Budgets have fallen by 18.5 per cent in England and 48 per cent in Wales with staff costs down 11 per cent. There has been an almost 20 per cent decline in the number of staff employed.
It added that the service was hit by education budget cuts and local government reform. Some schools had failed to buy into the service following the introduction of local management and smaller unitary authorities could not afford it.
The report's author, Graham Small, urged the Government to decide which department was responsible for the service which currently falls between Education and the newly-named Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He also recommended that central government should provide reasonable funding, set national guidelines on service standards and inspection benchmarks.