13 December 2019
Following the Conservative Party’s landslide election victory, we respond with a look at some of the challenges ahead.
Photograph © William Richardson / Adobe Stock
The decisive result of yesterday’s General Election will bring a degree of certainty to the political landscape for the first time since 2016, but we shouldn’t necessarily expect it to deliver certainty or security to creators and the creative industries.
We will work tirelessly with the new Government in raising the issues that affect our members and in trying to protect the wider cultural landscape. The Government now has the mandate it wanted to leave the EU, and a majority in Parliament to back it – so we need to keep at the forefront of their negotiations that our gold standard copyright system cannot be weakened as a bargaining counter in new trade deals.
We must also take steps to make arrangements with the EU to ensure that we can still sell into these key markets, attract talent and essential workers, and allow free movement of performers and translators, and promote cultural dialogue. Amongst other things we must open discussions urgently about what that means for enacting the European Copyright Directive into UK law.
We must not forget Scotland and the island of Ireland. The government has an obligation to ensure that no additional barriers should be erected to affect the thriving and vibrant publishing industries and cultural landscapes in those two nations.
Nearer to home, the Conservative manifesto includes a pledge to ‘explore how we can better support the self-employed’, including ‘making the tax system easier to navigate’ – so we look forward to finding out what that might mean for authors who, like many freelancers, often have ‘lumpy’ incomes based on intermittent payments.
The Conservatives have also promised £250 million in cultural funding, and a commitment to offer an ‘arts premium’ to secondary schools, but it is far too early to tell if these schemes will even begin to reverse the impact of cuts on education, libraries and the broader creative environment over the past decade.
Finally, there is no bar to now Axe the Reading Tax by reducing the rate of VAT on ebooks from 20% to 0%. This simple measure has broad all-party support and should be actioned as soon as possible.