Cuts could lead to digital deprivation

Falkirk is said to be an area with a high level of people who do not have a computer in their home
Falkirk is said to be an area with a high level of people who do not have a computer in their home

Access to public computers could be at risk if potential cuts to library services in the area are approved by Falkirk Council.

Union officials are worried that any reduction in service could affect support given to those most in need of help.

Falkirk Community Trust is under pressure to make savings of £1.2million in 2016 to 2017 and staffing in Falkirk’s libraries could be cut, if proposals go ahead.

The business plan which set out these options is now being revised as it was determined the cuts went too far.

Speaking at the time proposals were announced, Gray Allan, Unison secretary, said: “Falkirk has the third highest level of digital deprivation in Scotland.

“Our libraries provide the only access to IT and the Web for many. Any reduction in staff numbers will affect the support that can be given to those most in need.”

Government statistics show 70 per cent of people across Scotland have computer access at home, but for people with the lowest incomes, this figure can drop to just over 50 per cent.

Those living in social housing are most likely not to have access to their own computer.

Gray Allan added: “Libraries are a vital part of a democratic society, providing access to ideas and information.

“They strengthen literacy an attainment, they improve health and well-being, digital literacy and employability.

“The school library service has already been decimated by the council cuts. Public libraries must be defended before it is too late.”

Falkirk Community Trust’s business plan, which sets out proposed cuts to services, is currently under review and it is set to be published again in the near future.

The trust was unavailable for comment.