On the 23rd February, the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group (APWG) was pleased to hold its Annual General Meeting with the group electing its Officers for the coming year. To support Giles Watling MP as Chair, the Earl of Clancarty and Lord Balfe newly joined as Vice Chairs.
The group reviewed the past year and the work it has been doing to ensure that writers have had a voice during the pandemic. In November, the APWG felt it necessary to hold a supplementary inquiry session which built on the work of the Authors’ Earnings report in 2019 by pinpointing exactly how COVID-19 has impacted writers abilities to earn a living.
The APWG invited witnesses who ranged from writers themselves, such as Dawn Finch who is a children’s author, to representatives from groups such as the Society of Authors. The predominant message to come out of the session was the insecurity felt by most in the creative sector who, due to the nature of their work, have found their typical income streams disappear. The panel included Group Chair Giles Watling MP, Vice-Chairs Pete Wishart MP and Lord Clement-Jones who were engaged on the topic and have been pushing hard in other roles such as on the DCMS committee to communicate with the Government on the true impact of the pandemic on creators.
It was also agreed what priorities should be the focus for the coming year and how best to push forward with a clear agenda for writers. It was decided that concentrating on forming a Creators council will be important for the recovery of the Creative sector as it will be necessary to have a clear channel of communication and understanding with the Government going forward. The APWG will carry on its work pushing for an increase to the overall Public Lending Right fund which has remained stagnant for many years and provides the Government with a perfect opportunity to fairly support authors and remunerate them for their vital work. Finally, the group will look to engage more closely with the levelling-up agenda through its regional powerhouse project which will focus on how to improve access to the writing field across England.
Commenting on the coming work of the group, Group Chair Giles Watling MP said:
“Writers and creators have proved vital to our society in the past year providing much needed entertainment and escape during the pandemic through books and shows. It is imperative that we carry out this work as a group to ensure we secure the much needed support authors deserve through our various projects”
The elected officers for the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group are as follows:
Pete Wishart MP
Lord Tim Clement-Jones
Bob Stewart MP
Juliet Elliott MP
Andrew Lewer MP
Baroness Floella Benjamin
Lord Alf Dubs
Earl of Clancarty