Tuesday, 1 October 2013
In the UK we have a government funded recompense scheme for authors whose books are borrowed from public libraries - Public Lending Right. It's a small amount of money each year, but nonetheless welcome for all that. The thing is, about a year ago, the present government decided it would be good publicity to get rid of all those useless quangos (quasi-autonomous, neo-governmental organisations) that spend taxpayers' money without being responsible to the electorate. The trouble is that, despite the public's dislike of quangos, many of them carry out useful functions. Like PLR. It's a small unit in Stockton-on-Tees that performs efficiently and hands out money to authors on time every year according to figures estimated from samples of library loans. The government ran a consultation exercise (so-called) which raised a lot of protest from authors, predictably to no avail. The PLR organisation was to be subsumed into the British Library, and authors were left fearful of the consequences. In a way we need not have worried, because PLR now tells us that, although now being part of the British Library, the office remains in Stockton-on-Tees and the staff remain the same. No cuts then. Which only goes to show the government's 'big idea' of cutting quangos was just smoke and mirrors. I have no doubt that some organisations disappeared, some maybe had funding cuts, but I would bet most of them were simply hidden away in another organisation with the same funding and staffing. Just to give the impression that the 'big idea' had been carried through. Pull the other one, Mr Cameron.