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09 July 2020

APWG publishes report on authors' earnings

12 June 2019

On 11 June 2019 the UK Government's All Party Parliamentary Writers Group (APWG) published a report following its 2018 Inquiry into Authors' Earnings. Supporting the Writers of Tomorrow makes a raft of recommendations to Government based on evidence given to the Inquiry by a wide range of professional working writers, as well as industry bodies including the Association of Authors' Agents, the Society of Authors, the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, the Publishers Association and the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

The report's numerous recommendations are designed to ensure better support for authors, while also improving government engagement with creators; protecting the success of the UK publishing industry beyond Brexit and ensuring fairness in the bookselling market.

The recommendations include:

  1. The adoption of new copyright rules proposed in the recently passed EU copyright directive.
  2. The protection and promotion of the UK's existing, effective copyright system.
  3. The establishment of a Creators' Council to look at a variety of issues including diversity.
  4. A reduction of the rate of VAT on ebooks.
  5. A review of the tax and benefit rules for authors.
  6. The creation of a 'level playing field' between high street and online booksellers.

The contribution made to the UK economy by the creative industries, which now employ 1 in 11 working people, continues to grow and is valued at £101.6 billion. However, the most recent piece of research undertaken on behalf of ALCS by CREATe, University of Glasgow, shows that writers' earnings have fallen by 42% in real terms since 2005.

In addition, the 2018 ALCS survey showed that female authors earn around 75% of their male counterparts; a discrepancy that results both from lower rates of pay and a poorer breadth of opportunities, particularly in film and television.

Contributors to the Inquiry also raised concerns that a decline in authors' earnings could discourage new writers from taking up the profession, exacerbating the lack of diversity in the publishing and creative industries. Figures from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport show that 92.5% of workers in the creative industries and digital sector come from more advantaged social groups, compared with 67.3% for the general UK workforce.

For the full report, see the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group website.


About the APWG

The APWG was established in November 2007. All party groups allow MPs and Lords from all sides of the political spectrum to keep both government and opposition parties informed on specific policy issues, taking on board opinions from both within and outside Parliament.

Its aims are to represent the interests of all writers, to safeguard their intellectual property rights and to ensure they receive a fair level of recognition and reward for their contribution to the economy and society as a whole.