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30 July 2020

Labour Presses Government Over Business Rates Relief For News Media

The Labour Party has continued to press for a business rates holiday for news media amid concerns about the future of titles which have seen advertising revenues squeezed during the cornavirus pandemic. 

The Express and Star reported that the Shadow Leader of the House Valerie Vaz, Walsall South MP, has written to the Treasury to highlight "the lack of financial support" that news publishers have received during the pandemic.

"I am calling for an extension of the one-year business rates holiday for the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors to newspaper publishers, in line with Scotland," she said.

"It is time for the Government to step up and provide news publishers with the support they need. This is an avoidable crisis and the Chancellor must act now to protect this critical industry."

Ms Vaz said she was concerned that no additional support was announced for news publishers in the Summer Economic Statement in early July.

She also raised the issue during business questions quoting News Media Association figures which show ad revenues have dropped by up to 80 per cent for some publishers.

"I have now written to the Treasury urging them to provide business rates relief for news publishers," she added.

"Local news publishers perform a vital role in our democracy and have been at the frontline of reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic. They keep the public informed.

"Doing nothing is not an option – the Government must support news publishers to ensure their long-term survival."

Conducted in June, the latest NMA survey of members found that the sector is at risk of mass redundancies unless further Government support for news media is forthcoming. And a majority of respondents (59 per cent) said they will have to close titles if there is no further Government support.

The industry has welcomed existing measures designed to help the industry but has warned that further support is needed to avoid titles being closed and mass redundancies.  

The NMA is campaigning for a business rates holiday for news media and the call is backed by MPs including former Prime Minister Theresa May.  

The Scottish Parliament voted to extend business rates relief to news publishers in May.