Authors urged to complete SoA poll ahead of government spending review

Authors urged to complete SoA poll ahead of government spending review

The Society of Authors is calling on as many writers as possible to respond to its third Authors in the Health Crisis survey, ahead of 2020's Comprehensive Spending Review when the government will reconsider its spending priorities for the next three years. 

Completing the online survey will help members understand the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on UK authors, providing necessary data that will inform its representations to government ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, which is only conducted every few years to allocate funding to departments.

Data derived from a third survey will be vital, according to the SoA, in its efforts to obtain more support for self-employed creative professionals as well as targeted support for the books and publishing industry at large. The SoA is also pushing for an increase in Public Lending Right, making audiobooks VAT-free and for more education funding, important to many of its members whose incomes in part rely on school visits. 

The SoA's first poll, closed mid-April, found the majority of writers surveyed (84%–85% of more than 1,000 respondents) were unlikely to be covered by the government's coronavirus financial support schemes. They were being particularly badly hit by the cancellation of events, as 78% had events cancelled, of which 52% would not be compensated by insurance, and 58% were unable to "mitigate the loss" of funds through other earnings. A second-round poll, conducted 12th–19th May, had half the number of participants (515) but a higher proportion (up by a third) reported financial losses and a higher proportion (62% compared to 58%) said they were unable to mitigate these. 

Nicola Solomon, the SoA's chief executive, commented: “This is the third of our Authors in the Health Crisis surveys. We were pleased to receive more than 1,600 responses to the first two in our series, which showed the serious effect that the crisis has had on authors’ incomes and their difficulties in accessing the government schemes. They really helped us press the case for more support for our members—both from government and through our Emergency Fund which has paid out more than £1m but that is running dangerously low.

“It’s vital that we gain a strong response to this edition so that we can press government for more support for the arts and for creative professionals in the Comprehensive Spending Review and can make the case to funders to give more money to the sector—not just authors but also bookshops and independent publishers.

“Governments always respond more favourably to evidence-based submissions and I would urge all authors, illustrators and translators, whether SoA members or not, to help us build a strong case for us to take to ministers across the UK.”

Authors who have completed previous surveys are encouraged to fill out the third instalment to aid the crucial update. H M Treasury will accept representations until 24th September 2020. The survey is available to complete here