The Society of Authors has welcomed a proposed increase in the rate of Public Lending Right (PLR) payments, but has voiced its dissatisfaction that the number of loans has continued to decline, exacerbated by cuts in library services and the exclusion of volunteer-run libraries from the scheme.
The government is proposing to increase the rate of PLR payments to 8.52p per loan for 2017/18 - equating to an increase of 0.32p for each loan on the previous year.
The SoA said it was pleased with the proposed increase, but that it is still "woefully below that paid in some other comparable countries such as Germany".
It also expressed dismay the number of library loans is decreasing, believing this "no doubt" reflects the cuts in library services that have taken place across the country, as well as the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the PLR scheme.
As such, SoA is now urging the government to "fulfil its obligation to protect and maintain a 'comprehensive and efficient' library service, which is now under serious threat" and to include volunteer-run libraries.
Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, said: “We are pleased with the proposal to increase the PLR rate. PLR is a vital source of income for many authors, and the UK’s funding pot for PLR is considerably below that of comparable EU countries.
"However we are saddened to learn that the number of loans of books registered for PLR is decreasing. This is no doubt caused by cuts in library services and the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the scheme. We urge the Government to include volunteer-run libraries within the PLR scheme so that true figures for library lending can be recorded and remunerated."
Looking ahead to when PLR on e-lending comes into effect for the 2018/19 period, with first payments due on e-books to be made in early 2020, Solomon furthermore encouraged an increase in the overall fund in anticipation of the extra payouts that will have to be made.
Noting no additional funds have so far been allocated to the PLR fund to coincide with the extension of PLR to e-lending, Solomon added: "We are delighted that this change has been implemented, but it needs to be accompanied by an increase in the overall fund, and we urge the Government to review this before the first payments on e-book and e-audio loans are made in 2020."