The impact of the Autumn Statement on writers and culture sector

The Autumn Statement offers a mixed picture of some short-term support measures for parts of the writing sector but overall we are concerned for the long-term outlook for the cultural sector

On Thursday 17 November, the Chancellor announced the Government’s Autumn Statement. It set out the UK’s current challenging economic situation and the mitigating policies the Government has introduced to promote stability.    

ALCS have assessed the impact and have wider concerns for the culture sector’s ability to withstand the measures announced today by the Chancellor.  We maintain that the creative workforce, and the sector more widely, need greater support during times of uncertainty to deliver economic value for the UK. Here are some key things we want to highlight:   

Local Councils and Libraries 

Local Authorities are integral to the cultural landscape across the UK and help through a myriad of services to encourage people into reading and writing. According to a survey completed by the County Council’s Network in the run up to the Autumn statement, over half (56%) of councils said they would be forced to reduce the number of libraries due to increases of additional costs and inflation forcing local authorities to scale back services.  

The Chancellor introduced a council tax levy of up to 5% without local referenda in response to the financial pressures. This means local people will again be topping up the decimated council budgets in order to protect vital community services. Libraries are more important than ever at the moment. These buildings don’t just provide us with books: they offer a safe, warm, and – crucially – free space to their residents.  

Regulation of Digital Markets  

We were pleased to see that the statement also confirmed the timetable for establishing the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) on a statutory basis. The DMU is designed to ensure that large digital players, such as Google, Facebook and others, operate fairly when they intervene in UK markets for goods and services. In recent years digital companies have assumed a significant role in distributing content created by writers and we look forward to working with the DMU to ensure that these arrangements operate on a fair and sustainable basis.   


We are concerned about the squeeze to incomes that the changing economic climate represents for our members; the amount of real household disposable income is set to fall 7% over the next two years leading to a reduction in living standards, according to the OBR. ALCS knows it is more important now than ever to carry out the vital work of distributions to our members, as secondary income streams will help to boost members’ earnings.   

Business rates  

Prior to the Autumn Statement, membership organisations like the CBI and Booksellers Association called for further business rate relief support. This was seen as necessary to keep our local high streets going including bookshops which are integral to a healthy writing sector.   

ALCS is encouraged the Chancellor confirmed he will continue to freeze the business rates multiplier for retail, hospitality and leisure. This measure in combination with the acknowledgement that online marketplace warehouses should pay higher bills is welcome to help level the playing field for our local bookshops.   

Barbara Hayes, Chief Executive of ALCS, commented:   

In recent years, writers’ works were more important than ever to our society. We understand that the current economic forecast is concerning but we had hoped that more could be done to shore up our creative sector and the future of UK creators in the face of these concerns.   

“It is vital we work to protect the local and grassroots culture across the country that is the foundation of our incredibly successful creative industries. Among other measures, we would have hoped to see further DCMS budget to support vital levelling-up arts projects, which give communities agency to generate their own local cultural infrastructure.   

A recent DCMS committee report reaffirmed the importance of libraries. However, a County Council’s Network survey showed these vital spaces are at a high risk of closing with further cuts. Councils must be properly funded to fulfil their offering to local communities.   

We need to support local grassroots culture and infrastructure so our creative sector can continue to do what it does best: delivering economic and cultural value by drawing on the strength of UK creatives across the country.”  

Our full analysis can be found here. If you would like to get in contact with us in regard to the Autumn Statement, then please email