Wednesday 13 April 2011

WCC Libraries Business Case Application Form - A Dragons' Den Pitch?

Page One of the Form
On Monday, 11 April at 4.53pm a document was created by WCC called Business Case for Community Library or Community Run Library Services which is an eight page application form to be completed.

It is produced in as it outlines some important issues that a Community may face. In my view, it reads like a pitch to Dragons' Den with Colin Hayfield, Kushal Birla, Ayub Khan, Linda Smith and David Carter sat in the now famous chairs. For those people who think I am joking - I am not. At the Dunchurch Meeting, these five people were sat in front of the public.

So, what happens if take the dry throated walk up the stairs and make your pitch? You know you are holding the fate of your Community Library with you as you begin. The threat of closure looms over your village and this is the Once in a Lifetime Opportunity that Warwickshire County Council have promised.

On the form, there are twenty one questions and plenty of tricky notes. I can't judge if it's easy or hard - you decide for yourselves. Let's take each section in turn. The form reads... 

Notes for Guidance 7 see below
Business Case for Community Library or Community Run Library Services - The purpose of this document is to provide guidance and a framework for Community Groups to follow as they prepare a Business Case for a Community Library or for Community-run Library Services in their area. Please complete this form. You may find it helpful to refer to the notes for guidance from page 5 before you complete the parts of the form which have a note attached.

1. YOUR DETAILS, 1.1 Name of Applicant, 1.2 Status of Group/Organisation (if applicable), 1.3 Contact Name, 1.4 Phone/Email, 1.5 Address, 1.6 What is your interest in this service? (Circle as appropriate) Member of public/ run a business in Warwickshire/ work for a public body in Warwickshire/voluntary or community group/other [please give details]

2. YOUR PROPOSALS, 2.1 Name of library or area which business case relates to, 2.2 Vision
Please provide an overview of your proposals and the vision of your group or organisation. 2.3 Purpose
Please describe the community benefits your proposals will bring

3. YOUR EVIDENCE Please provide evidence of what library services your community wants and will use. This will inform your business case.
• Does the community want a library or only specific library services?
• What evidence do you have of this?
• Do people use the library now?
• Will they use it in the future?
• How will your proposals benefit the whole community?
• What evidence do you have of community commitment?

4. DETAILS 4.1 How will the service be managed and staffed? 4.2 What short term support needs and/or start-up costs will there be, how long will any support be needed and how will any costs be met?
4.3 What ongoing resources will you need and how will these be generated and sustained?
4.4 Please provide a 3 year annual financial projection, including income and expenditure and cashflow.
(A template for this will be made available on the WCC web site)
4.5 If you are proposing a community library, what hours are you proposing it will be open to meet the needs of the community?
4.6 Briefly indicate how you will ensure that legal requirements are met; e.g. –
• Insurance
• Health and Safety
• Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults
• Licensing
• Criminal Records Bureau checks
• Data Protection
4.7 What assets will you need to provide the service
4.8 Do you require access to Warwickshire County Council’s Library Management System and Books?
4.9 Do you wish to make a bid to the community libraries capital fund? If so, how much are you applying for?
4.10 Risk assessment
(Please state any risks associated with taking on this service and how you would propose to mitigate them)
4.11 Please provide any other supporting information you feel is applicable

WCC appreciates that many community organisations may need support as they complete their business case for submission.

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for Community Groups to follow as they prepare a Business Case for Community Library or Community-run Library Services in their area. Warwickshire County Council (WCC) is setting aside a one-off capital fund of £100,000 to support communities in the setting up their community library.

Business Case proposals which are implemented will be subject to an annual review by WCC to assess community benefit and sustainability.

1 Status of Group/Organisation
If your Group/Organisation has a written constitution or objectives, please provide a copy.
If you are planning to set up a Group/Organisation, please give details.

If you are going to run a community library, an existing or new Organisation will need to take on the responsibilities associated with this, and WCC expects that this would take the form of one of the first three structures in the following list. However, if you are proposing a more limited range of services – e.g. based on a self-service kiosk - a formal structure may not be required. Please talk to us if you would like advice about this.

The most common legal structures are –

Limited company (other than Community Interest Company)
Most frequently adopted corporate legal structure; can be adapted to suit most purposes. Directors manage business on behalf of members. Considerable flexibility over internal rules. It is a legal person distinct from its members. Members' liability is limited to amount unpaid – either on shares or by guarantee. Can be a charity.

Community interest company (CIC)
A special type of limited company designed for social enterprise. It has a secure 'asset lock' and a focus on community benefit. Similar to other limited companies, but is subject to additional regulation to ensure community benefits. Not a charity; but can become a charity if it ceases to be a CIC.

Industrial & Provident Society (IPS) (Co-operative)
For bona fide co-operatives which serve members’ interests by trading with them or otherwise supplying them with goods or services. Managed by a committee or officers on behalf of members. It is a legal person distinct from its members, so members' liability limited to amount unpaid on shares. Not a charity but could be set up as a community benefit type of IPS.

Charitable Incorporated Organisation
First ready-made corporate structure specifically designed for charities. Not available until 2011 – requires legislation to be passed Similar to company but with different terminology, eg 'charity trustee' instead of 'director'.

Unincorporated association
Informal; makes its own rules; suitable for small scale activities and membership groups/clubs as the organisation is not legally separate from its members, which can create problems for contracts, holding property and liability of individuals. If there is any property involved, this will need to be held by trustees. Can be a charity.

This is primarily a means of holding assets so as to separate legal ownership from economic interest. Assets are owned by trustees and managed in interests of beneficiaries on the terms of the trust. It isn’t a legal person in its own right, which means that the trustees are personally liable. Can be a charity.

You can find further useful guidance in the Business Link on-line Social Enterprise Toolkit., and on the Charity Commission website and also from Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action (WCAVA)

2 Vision
Please give an overview of what you’re proposing, and what the aspirations of your group are.

If it is a community library, please tell us what premises you want to use, what library and other community services you intend to provide and how it will be staffed.

If you are proposing that specific library services are provided in another way – eg fewer services; in different premises; sharing premises with another organisation – please explain.

3 Evidence of what library services your community want and will use
The Council’s evidence indicates that certain libraries are not sustainable in their current form, because of low levels of usage, as measured by number of visits and book loans. In this section, please provide evidence that the community wants and will support the services which are being proposed.

4 How will the service be managed and staffed? The Council is assuming that no existing staff will transfer to the community service. If your proposed service will involve the use of paid staff, ‘TUPE’ may apply - which could mean that existing WCC staff would transfer to the new service on the same terms and conditions. If you will be using volunteers, you will need to think about how to recruit them and ensure they are suitable, including carrying out checks with the Criminal Records Bureau (costs associated) if your proposal involves use of WCC’s computer systems. Please briefly demonstrate the capacity, skills and commitment available within the group/community.

5 Short-term support needs
E.g. access to a librarian

6 What ongoing resources will you need?
Where Community Libraries want this support WCC will:
• Publicise the service on the WCC web pages
• Provide one public access PC to include access to the “virtual” library on-line resources
• Provide current level of book stock
• Provide use of existing Library fixtures and fittings, i.e. shelving, tables, chairs, counters etc.
• Provide the Library Management System (LMS) – if required, (for computerised issue and return of books) including one LMS pc within the existing library premises
• Provide initial set up training and support

Some potential costs to consider within the business case include:
• Rent of premises;
• Running costs for the building (for example: heating, lighting, cleaning, maintenance, insurance etc);
• Additional computer costs including broadband, maintenance, licences etc
• Self-Service equipment –There is a one off cost to supply a kiosk of approximately £11,000 and ongoing support costs are approximately £1300 p.a. (exclusive of V.A.T.).
• Telephone costs; and
• Public liability insurance
• Additional or replacement of library fixtures and fittings
• Volunteer costs, e.g. CRB checks, transport costs
• Staff training
• Monthly advice from a professional
Please include any assumptions you have made in completing your financial submissions e.g. level of inflation on expenditure, replacement cycle on computers and other assets.

7 A 3 year annual financial projection
Successful business cases will demonstrate a robust, financially viable and sustainable project plan.

8 What assets will you need to provide the service?
This includes premises, equipment and furniture.

The service offer does not have to be in a WCC building if another suitable property exists. Additionally, it does not need to be stand alone; the local service/business could co-locate in order to reduce rental costs.
If you are considering premises other than an existing library, they should be -:
• Physically accessible to the general public and compliant with the Equality Act 2010 in terms of access for disabled people. More information can be found on the ‘Access to everyday services’ page of the Directgov website
• Open to the whole community; and
• Suitable for shelving, equipment, desks etc.

9 WCC’s Library Management System and Books – If the Council’s book stock is to be used in the community library; it will need to be made available on the same terms as in WCC libraries – e.g. length of loan, levels of fines, numbers of books for loan. We are considering issues relating to access and data security, and the basis on which communities may use the Warwickshire Library and Information Service library management system. It is likely that communities will need to enter into a service level agreement/data sharing protocol with the Council

10 Risk assessment
For example, withdrawal of grant funding; letting groups move elsewhere leading to reduction in income


  1. A once in a lifetime opportunity? Makes you laugh, doesn't it? I wouldn't trust any of the Councillors or the Management. After all, they've already made up their minds. Did they mention the ridiculously expensive vending machine at the meetings?

  2. In Dorset, we had a very similar obstacle-course to tackle but it was obvious from the start that the County Council was so determined to get rid of the smaller libraries that anything like a reasonable stab at the so-called business plan would be acceptable. The true agenda was to shove on to communities the responsibility for expensive buildings with the helpful by-product of losing a few staff. There was no chance of escaping the Council's pre-ordained "solution" no matter how many better ones were proposed.

    Our advice would be - ask for as much as you possibly can. You definitely still need the library management and book circulation systems, some professional help, buildings passed on in excellent condition ("assets, not liabilities"), volunteer training and a start-up fund.

    Eight of our libraries are now in the first stages of being community-run and self-sustaining. We are under no illusion that we are providing anything like as good a service as the professionals and heaven help any community that does not have the necessary entrepreneurial skills within it to get the ventures going, let alone sustain them in the longer term. Good luck!


For help adding links see How to add in line links

Popular Posts - last 7 days

Popular Posts - last 30 days


Search results

AP Top Headlines At 12:41 p.m. EDT

Kenilworth Weekly News - News Feed (Johnston Press)