Tagged: library services

Hartlepool library services under threat amid fresh cuts

The future of library services could be under threat as the service faces severe funding cuts.

The Government has cut Hartlepool Borough Council’s main revenue grant by £30m in recent years and since 2013 the Library Service budget has had to be reduced by almost 16 per cent.

Despite this savings have been achieved without any direct impact on library opening hours or the branch library network.

But the Library Service now has to find further savings from 2016, and these cannot be achieved without reviewing the whole service, including front-line operations.

 Over the next three months the Library Service is consulting with users, staff, and other interested parties for views on ways of delivering services differently to make savings and also improvements.

Hartlepool has five libraries – the main Central Library in York Road plus the four smaller part-time branch libraries: Headland, Owton Manor, Throston Grange and Seaton Carew.

Among the aspects being looked at in the review are opening hours, whether the branch libraries are still in the best locations to serve the needs of communities, potential for volunteers and external organisations to play an increased role, possible further development of the libraries’ online services and the potential for the libraries to generate additional income.

David Worthington, Hartlepool Borough Council’s head of culture and information, said:

“Hartlepool has an excellent library service and we want to continue to maintain that, but in the light of the massive financial pressures which the council continues to face, we need to find even better, more cost-effective ways of working.

“At the same time, we also need to make sure that our libraries remain in the best position to meet people’s future needs and their changing requirements.

“We’re keen to hear people’s thoughts on some possible ways forward and we would also welcome other suggestions, so I very much hope as many people as possible will take part in the consultation.”

People can find out more and give their views by completing a Library Review Survey online HERE.

Consultation drop-in sessions will be held at all the libraries:

• Central Library, York Road Wednesday, March 25 from 10am-noon and Saturday, March 28 from 10am-noon:

• Owton Manor Library, Wynyard Road, Thursday, March 26 from 3pm-6pm;

• Headland Library, Middlegate Friday, March 27 from 3pm-6pm;

• Seaton Carew Library, Station Lane Tuesday, March 31 from 3pm-6pm;

• Throston Grange Library, Glamorgan Grove Wednesday, April 1 from 3pm-6pm.

People can also send written comments to: The Library Review, Hartlepool Central Library, 124 York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DE or email infodesk@hartlepool.gov.uk

The closing date is Saturday, May 23.

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 25 Feb 2015

Local government UK councils benefit from half a million hours of unpaid labour

Scores of UK councils have benefited from more than half a million hours of unpaid labour through government back-to-work schemes, a series of freedom of information requests has found.

The FOI requests filed by the group Boycott Workfare, which campaigns against workfare schemes, found 62% of the 271 councils that responded had used unpaid workers on government schemes during the past two years.

Boycott Workfare, which says unpaid schemes such as work experience and mandatory work activity (MWA) exploit tens of thousands of unemployed people, found Newport council had used 112 people, mainly in its street cleaning and rubbish collection department for about four weeks at a time.

Scarborough council has used 120 people through the MWA scheme since 2011. Seventy one people completed the placements, all in the parks department.

Bexley borough council in London has taken more than 100 unpaid placements, including 71 through the mayor of London’s unpaid work scheme, which is funded by the European social fund. One person was offered full-time employment (!)  and 15 an apprenticeship.

The council said most of these placements were in library services, where 35 paid jobs were lost after services were merged with neighbouring Bromley in 2012.

Of the reported 1,929 placements, only one in 14 led to jobs according to Boycott Workfare, though this figure did not include apprenticeship placements.

Northumberland county council said it had put 44 people into unpaid work in its council services during the past two years.

“These work placements are intended to be positive experiences, not punitive and must be of community value and not replace anyone’s job,” the council said.

Boycott Workfare said half of council placements were part of the voluntary work experience scheme. But nearly 300 placements were on MWA, where the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can compel people to work without pay for a month or have their benefit cut for up to three years.

A further 300 people were sent to work for councils through the Work Programme, with placements lasting up to 26 weeks.

Since February 2012 the DWP has resisted a series of rulings from the information commissioner that it should make public the locations of people sent on government employment schemes, saying the data was commercially sensitive and a public outcry could damage the schemes’ operation. A high court hearing on the matter is expected to take place in the spring.

“data was commercially sensitive and a public outcry could damage the schemes’ operation.” But aren’t we always being told that if we’ve done nothing wrong we have nothing to fear ?  What are they scared of ?

Boycott Workfare said it was “disturbing to find so many councils putting local people at risk of destitution by using schemes that threaten people with up to three years’ benefit stoppages.

“Workfare doesn’t help people find work and councils aren’t offering people jobs at the end of their placement. Instead local authorities are clearly using workfare in an attempt to plug the gaps left by government cuts to public services.”

The group said a six-month employment scheme due to start this year would extend this trend of unpaid work in councils and charities.

“Unless it is stopped, it will mean both more devastating welfare sanctions and fewer paid jobs for everyone,” it said.

The DWP said: “Most of these placements are undertaken voluntarily and work experience is successful in helping people off benefits and into work.

“Mandatory placements give jobseekers in need of more help the vital workplace skills and experience – especially if they’ve never worked before – to find work.”

“Claimants are expected to complete placements which are of benefit to the community, including helping charities. It is only right that people claiming jobseeker’s allowance take part in programmes to improve their skills.”

> Fine – then if it’s work at least pay them the minimum wage. Even New Labour’s New Deal fiasco used to pay you 15 quid a week extra.

Forcing people to work for nothing under threat of sanctions for not complying = slavery.

And talking of Labour, New or present, I dont hear any protests coming from that direction. Of course, it seems most likely that they, should they win the next election, will just continue along the same course as the present government – in the same way that the Tories are using measures brought in by New Labour, like sanctions, to such devastating effect.

Different arseholes, same old shit.

Source – Guardian, 03 Jan 2014