Public Lending Right is saved

Public Lending Right is saved


norman lebrecht

October 22, 2010

UK Writers’ organisations have just informed us that the levy paid to authors on the loan of their books from public libraries has been largely preserved from government spending cuts.

The amount available for distribution will drop by 6.5 percent over four years – which is a good deal less than all other arts cuts. The shrinkage is from £7.5m now to £6.96m in 2014/5. 

What will change is the administration of the fees. The PLR office is to be shut down and the moneys will be distributed by some other arm of government, yet to be designated.

Here’s what we’ve just been told by the literary organisations.


PLR update following the spending review

As part of the cuts to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, it has been announced that there will be reductions to the PLR fund. However, these cuts are not as severe as  anticipated.

The annual figures have been announced as follows:

2010/11    £7.45m
2011/12    £7.218m
2012/13    £7.084m
2013/14    £6.977m
2014/15    £6.956m

There will thus be a reduction of 6.6% over the next four years, although the fall in real terms will be significantly bigger. 

Whilst any cuts are to be regretted, it does appear that support for the Public Lending Right scheme has been taken on board by the DCMS, and the cuts kept to a minimum, especially in comparison with the overall Department cuts of 25% so a big thank you again to you all for lending your support.

The issue of the administration of PLR however still remains a contentious one, with the announcement of a proposal to abolish the current PLR body and instead move the running of PLR to another body.  On 14 October Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, wrote to the Society of Authors stating the government’s intentions. See the letter here.

Representatives from the Society of Authors, the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society the Royal Society of Literature and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain have all expressed grave concern at this move and sought an urgent meeting with officials in the DCMS. 

On 19 October at a reception held by the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group, Maureen Duffy, one of the writers who fought to set up the PLR scheme in the 1970’s expressed her opinion on the move saying,

“When we planned this event, we had no suspicion that we were to be holding a wake instead of our usual celebration of PLR… To replace this with a body that has no expertise in this field of data collection and micropayments will mean expensive new IT systems, equipment, staff hire and training premises, all at huge cost and with absolutely no benefit in efficiency or savings.” 
For further information about the concerns please see the Society of Authors website. A full copy of Maureen’s speech from the 19th can be viewed here.

We will be in contact as and when any further information is available. Thank you once again for your support.



  • SusanHill says:

    Why will it mean expensive new IT systems ? They will simply transfer the existing software and databases. It’s a relatively simple system and no reason at all staff of an existing government department can’t learn it in a short time. They’re quite bright. I do wish everyone would stop seeing the glass half empty. Authors are bloody lucky. Quit whining.

  • Jessica says:

    I think the more worrying question is what will happen to the libraries that lend the books, given the cutbacks to local authority funding.

  • SusanHill says:

    Took my usual pile of new hardbacks into the local library this morning. Nice librarian always welcomes me with open arms and even more so today as they have been told no money at all and no new books for the next 2 years.
    NL: I’d like to do the same, but in Camden the librarians would probably call an open-ended union meeting at the sight of someone donating books.