Public Library Funding 2019/20

The Minister for the Arts the Hon Don Harwin MLC has approved the Public Library Funding Strategy for 2019/20.

The total funding for this year is a record $36,478,000.

The Funding Strategy was unanimously supported by stakeholders at the Library Council of NSW’s Public Libraries Consultative Committee (PLCC) meeting of 25 March 2019

The Strategy was subsequently endorsed by the Library Council of New South Wales on 10 May 2019, and recommended to the Minister.

The Public Library Funding Strategy for 2019/20 is as follows:

Component Amount

Subsidy - $2.45 per capita
Population served 7,985,324

2 Subsidy Adjustment Funding
Allocations to councils in addition to the $2.45 per capita (above)
1+2 Sub-total - payments to councils $27,111,044
3 $2,000,000
4 Outback Letterbox Library $200,000
5 Strategic Network Projects $359,287
6 State Library services to public libraries $807,669
7 Grant program $6,000,000
  Total Public Library Grants and Subsidies $36,478,000

2019/20 Subsidy and Subsidy Adjustment payments to councils which comprise the $2.45 per capita and Subsidy Adjustment.

Comparison with 2018/19 Subsidy and Subsidy Adjustments


New model for the Subsidy Adjustment

The Subsidy Adjustment provides funding to councils in addition to the per capita payment.

A new model for the Subsidy Adjustment has been developed in consultation with stakeholders to ensure that all councils receive an equitable share of the increased funding.

The previous Subsidy Adjustment was based on a range of historical payments, relative council disability and a share of the recurrent funding increase received in 2006. There were some inequities in the model resulting from past council amalgamations, however it provided reasonable additional payments to councils while the accompanying per capita amount remained at $1.85.

The increases this year to both the per capita amount and the Subsidy Adjustment pool prompted a review. This is because approximately half of the State’s 128 councils have populations below 20,000 people, and these councils will not receive significant increases through per capita funding alone.

The State Library advised that if the same model were to be retained, the majority of the increase would go to councils with large populations, leaving small to medium sized councils with less of a share of the increase. The increased funding would also amplify some historical inequities inherent in the model.

Stakeholders (through the PLCC) agreed that a smaller Subsidy Adjustment for larger councils, and a larger Subsidy Adjustment for smaller councils will produce a fairer result on a statewide basis, enabling small to medium councils to improve library services appreciably, without unduly compromising the significant increases that will be enjoyed by larger councils due to their per capita payments.

In 2019/20 a total of $7,547,000 is available for the Subsidy Adjustment.

The new model comprises an equal or flat rate allocation of Subsidy Adjustment funds to councils, with a portion of the funding allocated with reference to need, identified using the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas scale (SEIFA) developed by the ABS.

For 2019/20 the model would include a flat rate payment of $50,000 per council (total cost $6.350 million), with the remainder of the funds ($1.197 million) allocated with reference to the SEIFA score of each council.

The SEIFA payment is calculated as follows:

Councils are allocated to one of 10 bands based on the council’s SEIFA score (a low score equates to high socio-economic need, while a high score indicates lower levels of need).

Arranging councils into ten bands enables a percentile approach to the funding.

Funds are then allocated to the councils in each band, with higher payments going to the high need councils and lower payments going to the lower need councils. A sliding scale of 10% reduction per band is applied.
This table sets out the bands and payments.

Band SEIFA Score # of Councils in Band 2019/20 amount per council Total Band Budget
1 <910 12 $14,430 $173,163
2 <922 13 $12,987 $168,834
3 <937 12 $11,689 $140,262
4 <944 14 $10,520 $147,275
5 <959 14 $9,468 $132,548
6 <973 13 $8,521 $110,772
7 <986 13 $7,669 $99,695
8 <1033 12 $6,902 $82,823
9 <1083 12 $6,212 $74,541
10 1086+ 12 $5,591 $67,087
Total $1,197,000

Note that the amount per council is added to the Flat Rate of $50,000 per council under this model. Accordingly, councils in Band 1 would receive a Subsidy Adjustment of $64,430, while Band 10 councils would receive $55,591.

The Flat Rate plus SEIFA model provides significant increases for small councils. Larger councils will receive smaller Subsidy Adjustments than under the previous model, however will receive significant additional funding due to the per capita component increases.

The same principle will be applied over the 4 years of scheduled increases, with a review each year.

Smaller increases for some councils that amalgamated in 2004

As noted above, the new Subsidy Adjustment model eliminates historical inequities.

Under the new model all councils will receive increases in comparison with 2018/19, however some councils that were formed in 2004 from the amalgamation of three or more former councils will receive smaller increases.

This is because they had been receiving larger payments than their peers under the old model.

These councils continued to receive the quantum of some subsidy adjustment components that were received by the former councils prior to 2004.

For example, Clarence Valley (population 51,647) received $179,144 in payments in 2018/19, while Cessnock (population 59,101) received $143,762.

Clarence Valley was formed in 2004 through the amalgamation of multiple councils, while Cessnock had not been subject to amalgamation.

The new model alleviates this inequity, and all councils are treated equally.

$60 million commitment from 2019/20

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