Lord John Bird has championed the cause of libraries in the House of Lords, probing ministers on their funding plans at today’s House of Lords Questions.
The Big Issue founder and crossbench peer asked the Lords’ representative for the Department of Culture Media and Sport Baroness Diana Barran to outline the governments’ plan for libraries. He also quizzed her on the “cross-governmental problem” that sees DCMS promoting libraries while it falls to the local government minister to spend the money.
It's #LordsQs today in @UKHouseofLords as we continue the fight for libraries! You can watch here https://t.co/REAXrzIkFZ#whybooksmatterhttps://t.co/jnlpWg3J41
— John Bird (@johnbirdswords) February 3, 2020
Funding has been in short supply for libraries in the last decade. A total of £213m in real terms has been axed from their budget since 2010, resulting in a 10 per cent shrinkage to the library service, according to Public Libraries: The Case for Support, a report put together by CILIP and The Big Issue.
Baroness Barran responded by citing an increase in “local government resources of £2.9 billion, meaning spending power will rise by 4.4 per cent in real terms in the year 2020-21”.
She said: “The government are committed to supporting a sustainable, long-term future for libraries in England. We want libraries to be resilient and equipped to meet local challenges—to thrive, not just to survive.”