April 9, 2007
Savings and efficiencies
Those who read this and work in the councils where I have worked will know that we can generally identify £0.5m- £1m in each authorityand more of money which could be spent in a more effective way. The process of identification means simply asking "if we stopped this activity would the public notice ?" That question produces a list of many items which are not as efficient as they could be. It doesn't mean major instant changes, but points to a gradual but defined process (with an eye to the public interest) of changing the way that money is spent. I always advocate that those savings should be spent on more books; longer hours and better buildings and facilities.
In larger councils that amount can be several million pounds and it is why for six or seven years I have been saying that there is something of the order of £200m across the UK in the library service of inefficient expenditure which needs to be re-directed. The Audit Commission echoed my view four years ago; I detailed it in a report "Who's in Charge?" three years ago; the Culture Select Committee placed proper emphasis on it two years ago.
Two years ago consultants PKF were employed by the government identified that the "procurement" aspect of this wastage amounted to £30m and suggested many "quick wins" for achieving it. I thought that estimate was low and had been the subject of dilution by those who commissioned the work, but nevertheless, much they said was sensible;. Following their work further consultants, Price Waterhouse Cooper, were given a multi stage project intended to pursue and achieve all those efficiencies
Therefore I was surprised- nay breathtaken- to read this in the Bookseller magazine this week:
"The MLA says it is on track to achieve £1m savings by local authorities by end April 2009, in line with the first phase of the "Better Stock, Better Libraries" programme drafted by Price Waterhouse Coopers and budgeted to cost £1.2m."
This is incredible. There is no sign of the councils they identify will achieve this saving - which, if only spread across the 150 councils of England would amount to an average of £7,000 in each.
These people in the MLA and their committees and steering groups and the DCMS and those political leaders to whom they report should be dismissed tomorrow. They are a joke and they have by malicious and repetitive negligence destroyed the public libraries of this country. They are worth nothing less than total contempt and derision.
Posted by Perkins at April 9, 2007 8:09 PM