By Stephen Lotinga, CEO
When I joined The Publishers Association I was determined that we would try to listen to all of our members views, particularly on those issues that matter most. So, in the aftermath of Brexit when government minister’s asked us what the industry felt about the decision, it seemed appropriate to come and ask you directly how you felt this momentous change would impact your businesses. We’ve worked with the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) on this survey as well to ensure we can return to government with the views of the whole industry.
To start with I’d like to express a big thank you to the large number of you who have given up your time to respond to our survey, the full results of which can be found here. By doing this it provides us with a real basis to go back to ministers and properly articulate your hopes and concerns over what the Referendum result actually means to you.
Having now collated your responses I think it’s fair to say that, while many of you have significant concerns about the uncertainty that Brexit brings, you are not going to allow it to dramatically change your plans. The vast majority (73%) said that pre-Brexit investment plans would continue and a small number (2%) thought investment might actually increase. You also saw potential for immediate opportunities from a weaker pound making exports more competitive (44%) and a desire for the UK government to take advantage of greater flexibility to reduce VAT on epublications and strengthen its support for copyright.
With all of that said, we shouldn’t attempt to gloss over the level of concern that the Referendum result has clearly caused. Higher costs of doing business due to currency fluctuations and the possibility of export tariffs was considered to be by far and away the biggest challenge (35%). That is hardly surprising considering the PAs latest figures show that over a third of physical book export revenue came from the EU last year. You also expressed concern about the potential loss of influence over European matters and in particular how that impacts on key policy matters like the digital single market (31%) and open access (23%).
These results are really important and will now inform how we prioritise our work at the PA. While it’s clear that the publishing industry remains resilient in the immediate term, we need to ensure that we continue to have influence over the future business environment both domestically and in the EU. UK published material, whether that is the latest fiction bestseller, our world renowned scientific journals or textbooks for the classroom will continue to be sought after globally. However, policy makers should not take for granted that the UK publishing industry’s success as the world’s preeminent exporter will continue regardless of the policies they now pursue.
We have important meetings coming up with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the entirely new Department for International Trade. These results will be at the forefront of our discussions so thank you once again.