800 libraries closed in Britain since 2010

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (Cipfa) annual survey of the UK’s libraries has revealed that almost 800 libraries have closed under the Conservative government since 2010.

Not including Northern Ireland, the analysis highlights that there are 3,583 library branches still open in the UK – 35 fewer than last year. Since 2010, 773 have closed, meaning that a fifth of the UK’s libraries forced to close over the last 10 years have occurred against a backdrop of a 29.6 per cent decline in spend.

In fact, national spending on the service topped £1 billion in 2009/10 but dropped to under £750 million in the last year, with the number of paid librarians having also dropped. There were 24,000 salaried staff working in libraries in 2009/10, but last year there were 15,300 recorded employees and more than 51,000 volunteers.

Rob Whiteman, Cipfa chief executive, said that the figures showed a sustained trend where local councils on tight budgets had been forced to redirect funding to priority services such as social care.