The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has launched a consultation on plans to transfer the administration of Public Lending Right (PLR) away from the existing PLR body in Stockton-on-Tees.
In the consultation paper, the DCMS states that its preferred option is to transfer the PLR function to the British Library. Other options are to transfer it to the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society, Arts Council England, the DCMS itself, or simply to continue with the current body.
The consultation paper states: "The Registrar has successfully kept operating costs below the cap set by Ministers in the first year of the Spending Review period and officials are working with the Registrar to reduce administrative spend in order to minimise further reductions in the rate per loan paid to authors. However, we believe that transferring the PLR functions into a larger body presents further opportunities for efficiencies that would otherwise not be achievable and consequently offers the most realistic means of protecting the rate per loan."
The DCMS announced in 2010 that it planned to close the existing PLR body, which has administered the scheme for over 30 years, as part of its "bonfire of the quangos". However critics of the plan have said the existing PLR body already does the job cost-effectively and with expertise.
Nicola Solomon, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said she would be responding to the consultation on behalf of her members. "We will say that PLR is perfectly good where it is," she said. "Almost everybody who has had dealings with it loves it and thinks it does an excellent job. One works on the basis of 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' The DCMS is accepting that the PLR body isn't broke, they say it has successfully kept operating costs below the cap set by ministers, so why are they trying to fix it? It is absolutely extraordinary, just box-ticking [to get rid of another quango]."
The consultation will run until 30th July.