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09 July 2020

Labour Party Presses For Business Rates Relief For News Media

The Labour Party is pressing for a business rates holiday for news media with the issue raised by the Shadow Leader of the House during business questions in the House of Commons this morning. 

Shadow Leader of the House Valerie Vaz MP today said the issue of business rates relief for news media, which the News Media Association has been campaigning for, should be added to a debate on the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs next week.

She said the Chancellor’s announcement did not contain any new measures for local newspapers “who have said they would like a further business rates holiday.”

She added: “The News Media Association say that since the start of the pandemic their advertising revenue has been reduced by 80 per cent, I wonder if that could be inserted into the debate next week?”

MPs have continued to press the Government for further measures to support the news media industry which has seen advertising revenues drop dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic.

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 campaign for a business rates holiday for news media is backed by MPs including former Prime Minister Theresa May.  

In a letter to the Chancellor this week, Rachel Maclean MP said: “According to research conducted by the News Media Association, since the start of the pandemic, the advertising revenue on which local and regional titles rely has fallen by as much as 80 per cent.

“At the end of March, 50 per cent of titles surveyed estimated their survival time to be no more than two to four months and at least 61 print titles throughout the UK have since suspended publication.

“With this in mind, I write in support of the Redditch Advertiser and the News Media Association’s call for the Government to grant a one-year 100 per cent business rate relief for news publishers.

“This would follow action taken by the Scottish Parliament to extend the one-year business rate holiday granted to the hospitality, retail, and leisure sectors to news publishers based in Scotland.”

In a letter to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay MP, Luke Hall MP said: “I have been contacted by the Editor of the Gazette Series Newspapers, Mr Michael Purton, regarding business rate relief for local newspapers.

“Mr Purton has asked if the Government would consider granting a one-year 100 per cent business rate relief for news publishers. I am personally aware of the important service local newspapers offer residents, particularly at this uncertain time, and I would be very grateful for a full consideration of this request and any financial support publishers such as the Gazette Series could receive.”