SoA calls for 'urgent meeting' after PLR body is culled

The body which administers the Public Lending Right payment to authors is being abolished, the Government has announced. But it has yet to say who will take over the function of PLR, with the Society of Authors describing the announcement as "both alarming and extraordinarily vague".

There is also a possibility that the rate itself will be reduced as part of the Government's spending review, to be unveiled by the Chancellor George Osbourne on 20th October.

PLR has fallen victim to the quango cull that is underway across Whitehall, that has already seen the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the Advisory Council on Libraries lined up for the axe. The MLA will start winding down next April; the ACL could go as early as this autumn.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey sent a letter to the Society of Authors this morning in an attempt to "reassure [authors] on a number of issues". Vaizey said the government intended to achieve the transfer of functions during 2011-12. But he added that funds would be ring-fenced, and that the new administrative body would have independence from the Government.

The SoA responded: "The announcement is both alarming and extraordinarily vague. We are seeking an urgent meeting with officials in the department. It is hard to know what impact, if any, the change will have on the day to day management of PLR, so competently run by the Registrar, Jim Parker, and his staff."

It said it had also received a letter from Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, in response to the Society's campaign about the funding of PLR—over 4,000 authors have now signed a statement urging the Government to maintain the current level of funding for PLR in the forthcoming Spending Review. In the letter Hunt made no promises over PLR, but wrote: "Wherever possible we will find savings through administrative efficiencies, which is the best way to minimise the direct impact upon practitioners such as writers who deliver culture on the frontline." Osbourne will outline the broad detail of the cuts next week.

The DCMS also announced that the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel has been abolished. A DCMS spokeswomen confirmed that all other aspects of the legal deposit system are unchanged, and that publishers still have to deposit new books with the six legal deposit libraries.