September 23, 2013
Lincolnshire public library service
The last published CIPFA figures for Lincolnshire show that the County Council allocated £11.0 million pounds for the operation of the library service
Out of that amount they took back £4.2 million pounds as a contribution to paying the council overheads - the general HR department, tax collecting, council systems etc
That means that in reality they tried to operate 59 libraries with £6.8 m - and that has to pay for all the library management and some quite large libraries as well as small ones
in seeking to make savings of £2m instead of examining and reducing the overhead charges they propose to close half the libraries
You don't have to look further than these few figures to see the problem - and the solution -
-It has nothing to do with 'The Cuts'
-It has nothing to do with 'Central Government enforcing austerity'
-It has nothing to do with Trident Missiles
-It has nothing to do with The Bankers and their bonuses
-It has nothing to do with party politics - Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP or Green
-It has nothing to do with reminiscing about the libraries of one's childhood
-It has nothing to do with Co-location of resources
-It has nothing to do with reducing the number of library authorities
-It has nothing to do with the Arts Council and their visions
-It has nothing to do with privatisation, or outsourcing or ringfencing or volunteers
-It has nothing to do with the internet and ebooks
-It has nothing to do with The DCMS
-It has nothing to do with Ed Vaizey
It has everything to do with the management of Lincolnshire County Council which is - on this data alone - clearly incapable of doing its job - and has been for a decade
Posted by Perkins at September 23, 2013 11:42 AM
In August I sent LCC a Freedom of Information request for details of the library support services spending. They sent me details of the non-support services spending instead, and I'm still waiting for them to send me the correct information. That's clearly an honest mistake and not suspicious at all.
Posted by: Ros Jackson at September 23, 2013 4:14 PM
Ros - Thank you - I have never known a council hand over a detailed account of the library support service charges that reconciles with the figures they report in CIPFA- unless they are under extreme pressure from a cabinet council member . It will be a first, if they do - perhaps you might share it with us
Councils use different names for this charge - it might be hard to identify the right expression . The actual words on the CIPFA report are "Support service costs"
It is not unusual to find clear mistakes. I have known one council in which the library service was charged for some council tennis courts and sports facilities - and another in which an expensive building that had nothing to do with libraries was charged
The councils tried to argue that those charges had to be applied somewhere - but that is not a proper argument and should not be accepted. The reason for making this recharge in the council accounts is to identify the full cost of the service - in this case the libraries
(by the way, I was born in Lincolnshire!)
Posted by: perkins at September 23, 2013 5:47 PM
Hi, I did FOI these costs for Oxon. http://questioneverythingtheytellyou.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/this-is-democracy-and-people-dont-like.html
I think as more and more council services get outsourced, more and more of the head office costs get dumped onto the library service. Any business with these sort of costs in the real world wouldn't last 6 months and no bank manager would ever lend money if a business asked for money with a business structure like this. Sadly the councillors are too lazy or thick to really get to teh bottom of these costs and instead the small branch and rural libraries low paid staff are culled instead.
Posted by: Trevor Craig at September 23, 2013 8:37 PM
The CIPFA Lincolnshire library information is here:www.cipfastats.net/uploads/CIPFA_Profile_Nearest_Neighbours_Lincolnshire2722013101525.pdf
The financial information for 2011/12 is on page 50. The support services costs look high.
It is worth noting that the CIPFA definition of 'support services cost' includes an apportionment of central costs even if these costs are not recharged within the Council. Given that Library Services only make up a very small fraction of what a Council does it is easy to generate very different CIPFA support service costs depending on the apportionment basis. The apportionment may be a mechanical exercise only used for completing the CIPFA return. So user beware!
Council management should of course be managing its central cost base. There is no getting away from that.
Posted by: libraryvolunteer at September 24, 2013 12:57 AM
Yes - but the 'mechanical exercise' should be transparent and consistent from year to year.
There are lots of reasons why this is a bit more complicated than it seems - but - as you say- in truth there is no getting away from the reality . It's wrong
Posted by: perkins at September 24, 2013 5:51 PM
LCC sent me some information:
It's even less than Trevor got for Oxfordshire. I don't believe these costs are all the information they hold (if they are, there's some serious negligence going on). So why aren't they disclosing more information?
Posted by: Ros Jackson at September 26, 2013 1:49 PM
Thank you again - actually these figures are quite interesting - I'll have a proper look at those that you obtained and those that Trevor obtained and put up a new item over the weekend to show what they imply
Posted by: perkins at September 26, 2013 8:33 PM