Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guild's response to Comprehensive Spending Review

The effect of the coalition’s spending review on subsidised arts and culture was overshadowed by bizarre last-minute horse-trading between the Government and the BBC, resulting in a six-year licence-fee freeze and a real-terms cut of 16% in the BBC’s budget.

The BBC will take over funding the World Service, the Welsh language channel S4C and BBC Monitoring, which logs and translates many overseas radio stations. £300 million of licence-fee money will also be used to pay for high-speed broadband in remote areas.

Although the BBC said it was 'happy' with the outcome, that has to be seen in the context of the alternative, which was funding the £556 million-a-year cost of free TV licences for people over 75.

Writers’ Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: 'For two years the BBC has taken a tough and principled stand against licence-fee 'top-slicing' but in less than two days it has caved in and accepted responsibility for funding a range of services that most licence-fee payers never use.

'A settlement that would normally be subject to exhaustive public consultation and debate has been stitched up behind closed doors in a matter of hours. I suspect the BBC – and the British public – will repent at leisure.'

Meanwhile Arts Council England has been left to struggle with immediate cuts of 14% to grant-funded organisations – the dreaded 'front-loading' that could put a fatal strain on many subsidised theatres and other organisations. More cuts will follow in later years. ACE chief executive Alan Davey put a brave face on things but had to admit: 'These cuts will inevitably have a significant impact on the cultural life of the country.'

There is a 15% cut for the Public Lending Right scheme, which will inevitably mean a reduction in the 6p per loan paid to the authors of library books, but it is not yet clear how the scheme will be administered as the PLR agency is to be abolished.

It is also unclear so far whether ACE will take on responsibility for government funding of the film insustry following abolition of the UK Film Council. Further details about the impact of the spending review are expected to emerge tomorrow and in the next few days.


  1. Rushing into bodged-up agreements with little regard for the long term consequences has been the style of the Coalition from its inception.

    The BBC is always going to be in the firing line for this government. Now those who struggled with the limited resources and opportunities in Welsh drama and at the World Service see everything taken away.

    All of us writers need to support the Guild in standing up for creative voices as these and many other areas of the Arts feel the idealogical/budgetary squeeze in the next several years.

  2. Kevin McCann10:55 am

    I agree but I think the Guild - which is a Trade Union..allegedly - should condemn not just the cuts in the Arts but the cuts as a whole. A lot of writers I've met over the last ten years seem to imagine it's got nothing to do with them unless it affects their fees...directly. But for those of us who stil live in the real world, these cuts will affect much more than just ACE Funding and the Beeb - cuts in local authority budgets means less work in schools, libraries etc - and that work that is available is already at a much lower rate on a "take it or leave it" basis - I was even told that there were plenty of writers out there "only too glad of the work" - and how many novelists out there have found that their publishers are making millions and thye're being paid peanuts in comparison - well welcome to wonderful world of capitalism !
    THe fact is millins of the poorest and most vulnerable in our "Big Society" will suffer as a result of these cuts - I'm angrier about that than anything else right now - we need to stand up and be counted, not as narrow self serving scribblers - which is how most people see us - but as writers who will do what the best have always done - and take a stand

  3. Kevin McCann2:14 pm

    p.s you could also sign up to the Peoples Charter at


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