The Future of
Speak Up For Libraries
Saturday 10th November 2012
 Outline the context library services are operating in
 Provide an overview of legislative changes and how these
could impact on the future of libraries
 Highlight the use of different service delivery models
The picture in local government
A difficult position....
•Government cutting 28% from local
authority budgets by 2014
•Further cuts expected
•Local authorities reviewing budgets
and services
•Libraries amongst other services
being reviewed
The picture for libraries
•Expenditure on libraries and other culture and
leisure, was set to be lower in real terms in 2011−12
than in 2001−02. (IFS)
•Libraries spending cut back by15% over the twoyear period: 2010−11 and 2011−12
Responding to the cuts
More specifically...
 Co-operatives and mutuals
 Councils looking to convert libraries
reported that volunteerowned by library users and others
run libraries without
– Gives control to people; but adequate support from
– May not come with funding, and
a lot of effort
the local
effectively “closing them
to run
by stealth”.
– ‘Big Society’ volunteer run libraries...
More specifically...
 Privatisation
 Library services put out to procurement for private sector
 Libraries would be run purely for profit
 Shared services
 Starting to be looked at in some areas of local
 Not yet seeing the success/savings many speak of...
 In-house provision
 Preferred option ensuring stability and quality service
 Though don’t necessarily need the status quo- service
improvement very much welcomed
New legislation
 Localism Act 2011
 Community right to challenge
 Assets of community value (‘right to bid’)
 General power of competence
 Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012
 Sustainable Communities Act 2007
 The Sustainable Communities Regulations 2012
Localism Act 2011
 Community right to challenge
 Allows a community group to express an interest in
bidding to run a service
 If accepted, the expression of interest simply opens up a
full-procurement process
 Anyone, including large private organisations, can bid
against the community group in the procurement process
 The ‘right’ is a Trojan-horse for privatisation
 Use of the action by a community group represents a
breakdown in the relationship between that group and
the council
Localism Act 2011
 Community right to bid
 Can apply for a building to be listed as an ‘asset of
community value’ (whether public or privately owned)
 If listed, and the owner comes to sell the building, a
community group can stall the selling process in order to
try and raise sufficient funds to buy the building
 However, the owner is under no obligation to sell the
building to the community group- even if the group offers
the highest bid
 And, local authority may need to compensate the private
seller for any financial detriment caused by the delayed
sale due to the right to bid.
Localism Act 2011
 General power of competence (GPC)
 Previously local authorities could only do what legislation
specifically gave them power to do
 GPC puts local authorities on same footing as people
and companies.
 However, there are many things local authorities are
expressly prohibited from doing: e.g. Making a profit off
 Power is of some use, but in practice may be of limited
Public Services (Social Value) Act
 Requires public authorities to have regard to
 economic
 social; and
 environmental
well-being in connection with public services contracts
 Does not change procurement law. It applies up until it
would create conflict with EU procurement law, at which
point the procurement law takes over
 Not as wide in scope as advocates for the law first hoped.
Yet to see what impact it will have
Sustainable Communities Act
 The Sustainable Communities Regulations 2012
 The Act allows local groups- via their local authority- to
put forward proposals that:
– would promote the sustainability of the community;
– requires central government action
 The Act forces the government to negotiate (with a view
to reaching agreement)
 However- local authorities are the gate-keepers, they
have to agree to put forward the proposal
 Worth looking into as an option for trying to save libraries
where the local authority wants to work with you
 has more info
Any good news?
 Examples of local authorities considering library service
privatisation to be a bad thing:
» “The council has been working with interested
parties in a competitive dialogue process to see
if there are ways that we can work with the
private sector to improve the library service we
offer. The result is that we haven’t been
convinced there will be enough benefits for our
library users to continue with the process. We
also don’t want to take the risk the key
objectives would not be achieved for our users.”
Any good news?
 Duty of Best Value (it still exists!)
 Local Authorities still have to consider the Best Value
Duty. This means they should find out whether, for
instance, it is better value to deliver a service in-house
as opposed to outsourcing
 Sustainable communities act- gives you scope to work with
your local authority to undo Government actions
 General Power of Competence assists local authorities
 Growing opposition to privatisation within local authorities
 Cornwall Council Leader loses vote of no confidence
over privatisation programme
 Former Barnet Mayor and senior Conservative councillor
calls for his party to end its ‘One Barnet’ privatisation
Taking action
 Difficult challenges ahead- but there are some things worth
 Work with your local council and UNISON branch to find
ways to improve the library service. We don’t necessarily
want to argue for the status quo- we want an improved
in-house library service
 Try and use the Sustainable Communities Act
 Put forward the cases for keeping in-house service. A
departure from this is likely to mean library closures in
the long term
 Campaign to put staff and library users at the heart of
the service- keeping out private-for-profit interests
 Lobby your local councillors and council to maintain
library services
For further information please contact:
Hannah Bailey, Assistant National Officer
[email protected]

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