Libraries need 'immediate funding' or risk closure, say Senedd Committee

The Committee heard evidence that for every £1 spent, libraries could deliver £8.75 worth of value in preventing many of the problems that cost society – and the public purse - in other ways. Credit: PA

Libraries across Wales need "immediate funding" or they risk closure, according to a new report.

Libraries are currently facing "huge financial pressures" from inflation, rising energy bills and historic budget cuts – and immediate, as well as long-term funding, is urgently required, according to a new report by The Local Government and Housing Committee.

It comes as libraries are said to offer an "enormous" amount of benefit to people’s health and educational wellbeing.

The Committee heard evidence that the ‘social value’ of libraries meant that, for every £1 spent, they could deliver £8.75 worth of value in preventing many of the problems that cost society – and the public purse - in other ways.

The report also found that current efforts to make libraries more energy efficient don’t go far enough.

Despite funding from the Welsh Government to support making some buildings greener, the Committee was told that the money is not enough if buildings are to be decarbonised by 2030.

John Griffiths MS, Chair of the Local Government and Housing Committee, said, “The situation facing many of our leisure and library services is concerning. Budget cuts are causing great difficulty, and this situation needs to be addressed before it gets worse. 

“But we cannot pretend that this is a problem that can be solved quickly. Long term thinking - and funding - will be required if we want to keep these vital public services going. 

Libraries not only allow people to borrow books, but also access a computer, gain work skills, and join classes, the report emphasises.

“We know the huge amount of social value that libraries and leisure centres add to our communities. From computer classes to sports lessons, these places actually save money in the long-run by keeping us happier and healthier. The funding they receive should match their contribution to society.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are doing all we can to protect local services with the resources we have available to us.

"The core funding we provide local government has increased by 7.9% in 2023-2024 to over £5.5bn. This funding can be used flexibly by local authorities to provide services in response to local needs and priorities."

“We thank the committee for its report. We will consider its findings and respond in due course.”

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