As the COVID-19 health crisis deepens across the globe, the incomes of self-employed workers from all sectors have been hit hard, with many creators among them. IAF has collated a list of resources and news from member organisations to provide support to those who have been affected. This list will be updated with new resources as they become available.
The Australian Government announced a new $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme designed to keep Australians in jobs during the pandemic. This $1,500 per fortnight subsidy is available for sole traders – which many authors and illustrators are – as well as employees.
The Australian Society of Authors has called for Public Lending Right (PLR) and Educational Lending Right (ELR) payments to be made as quickly as possible this year, as well as the rapid expansion of the PLR and ELR schemes into digital formats. They have also called for a plan to help bookstores survive this crisis; a government-backed public campaign to encourage consumers to buy Australian stories and support Australian authors, as well as their local bookshops and libraries, at the end of the pandemic to assist recovery and provide additional funding for the Australia Council, including supporting an increase in individual writers’ grants.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government has reached an agreement with the opposition party on an $82 billion financial aid package.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will give $2,000 a month for four months to people who are off work and without an income because of the impact of COVID-19. Unique to this package is that, in addition to including wage earners, its specific reference to full-time and part-time contractors and self-employed Canadians includes many who normally wouldn’t qualify for employment insurance.
The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) and Writers’ Trust of Canada announced the creation of the Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund to provide support to professional authors financially affected by the pandemic. The fund will begin with an initial amount of $150,000 and distribute grants in amounts of $1,500 to writers that have seen contracted or projected income evaporate due to the current public health crisis. Financial support for the programme is supplied by three programme partners: the Writers’ Trust, TWUC, and Royal Bank of Canada.
In Italy, The Italian Writers Federation (FUIS) released an anthology series called ‘’Coronavirus Diary’’. The 5th series of the anthology also features a poem by the Honorary President of ALCS, Maureen Duffy called ‘’ In time of plague’’.
The Dutch government announced it will introduce a temporary, more flexible scheme to support independent businesses, including self-employed people, so that they can receive additional income support for living costs for a period of three months.
In the UK, the Government announced that self-employed individuals will receive direct cash grants though a UK-wide scheme to help them during the pandemic; with eligible workers receiving up to £2,500 per month for at least three months. However, organisations including the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), Society of Authors (SoA) and the Writers Guild of Great Britain wrote to the Chancellor, asking for gaps in the scheme to be resolved including issues for authors who are part- and self-employed and cannot fully account for their income. Other issues highlighted by these organisations include the fact that government plans did not account for self-employed workers with ongoing business expenses and that the scheme would also exclude many authors on the basis that they were previously “higher earners” while not being in a situation to have accrued savings.
The SoA, ALCS, Arts Council England, Royal Literary Fund (RLF), the T S Eliot Foundation, in partnership with English PEN, and Amazon UK, have contributed to the Authors’ Emergency Fund for the support of authors through the crisis.
The Arts Council England made £160 million of emergency funding available for organisations and individuals who will need it during this crisis. Moreover, it has changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of its funding.
United States of America
The Authors Guild are offering membership conference calls on how the Guild can help market members’ books with spring publication dates and allow members to share information and ideas. They are using the Zoom platform for Virtual Book Tours and are holding discussions with the industry on how to provide guidance and online reading to its members.
The National Writers Union have profiled the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which makes independent contractors and self-employed individuals eligible for up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits under some circumstances, through to 31 December 2020.
The Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) is providing professional advice to academic writers affected by the health crisis who have specific concerns or needs due to the recent changes in academic schedules.
In response to Internet Archive’s (IA) announcement to make in-copyright books freely available online without restriction on its Open Library site under the guise of a National Emergency Library, the Authors Guild and National Writers Union released statements against this development respectively.
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