Cuts to cultural services are entrenching inequality, says Labour

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Around £90 million has been cut from cultural services budgets across local authorities in Scotland since 2011, according to Scottish Labour.

The party’s analysis of net revenue expenditure between 2011/12 and 2016/17 suggests a reduction in real-terms spending.

Figures indicated a £22 million reduction in spending for libraries, with more than £5 million cut from museums and galleries.

The study also found there was almost £20 million removed from budgets for sports facilities and more than £30 million from community parks and open spaces.

Labour claims the figures are evidence the Scottish Government has helped to implement austerity measures taken by the UK Government.

The party’s culture, tourism and external affairs spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “The SNP Government’s decision to pass on Tory austerity to our communities has resulted in multimillion-pound cuts to cultural services across Scotland.

“Libraries aren’t just a free source of reading, they are often at the centre of people’s daily lives.

“They are a place for everyone to learn, to study, to talk and exchange ideas, and can always provide a safe and welcoming environment for vulnerable people in our communities.

“These SNP-Tory cuts are entrenching inequality and damaging the quality of life for thousands of Scots.

“The next Scottish Labour government will use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to properly fund councils and ensure arts and culture are accessible to the many, not the few.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Libraries empower communities, help tackle inequality, reduce isolation and boost the local economy. Since 2014, the Scottish Government has provided funding of more than £4.7 million which has supported the development and delivery of Scotland’s first national public library strategy and continue to support innovative ways for people to use public libraries.

“We are also maintaining our support for non-national libraries through continued support for the Scottish Library and Information Council, and we are maintaining our investment of £450,000 in the Public Library Improvement Fund to support innovative ways for people to use public libraries.

“We continue to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.

“We are delivering a total funding package of £11.1 billion for local authorities next year – a real-terms increase of over £210 million for essential public services in Scotland.”

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