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Scottish libraries ‘lost out on more than £250m’ in last decade, new Labour analysis shows

SNP ministers are “gutting local communities,” Scottish Labour said today as it revealed cuts to council funding have led to libraries missing out on more than £250 million in the last decade.

The party cited figures from the Improvement Service’s local government benchmarking framework, which showed that by 2020-21, real-terms cumulative cuts to the net expenditure on libraries had hit £257,125,000.

This equates to a 36 per cent reduction in annual spending since 2010-11.

Ahead of the local council elections on May 5, Scottish Labour argued that the figures “prove the SNP can’t be trusted” to protect councils. 

Its local government spokesperson Mark Griffin accused the SNP —in power north of the border since 2007 — of making it clear “they aren’t interested in protecting local services.”

He said: “The SNP have gutted local communities and treated local government with utter contempt.

“Year after year of brutal cuts have left a black hole in funding for libraries – and this is the case for so many local services.

“The SNP have delivered a hammer blow to Scotland’s communities and abandoned the next generation with these cuts.”

A Scottish government spokesman said that local authorities have a “statutory duty to ensure that there is adequate provision of library services for their residents.

“The 2022-23 local government funding package of almost £12.7 billion provides a cash increase of £1.1 billion, or a real-terms increase of £731.4m.

“Furthermore, the Scottish government’s £1.25m Public Library Covid Relief Fund, announced in September, is now supporting 30 projects around the country.

“We will continue to support our libraries to provide invaluable resources to their local communities through our annual Public Libraries Improvement Fund.”

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