Support from MSP for local newspapers

Business rates could be examined
Business rates could be examined

A tax break for local newspapers should be looked into as a matter of urgency according to local MSP John Lamont.

As part of last week’s Budget, Chancellor, George Osborne announced a review of business rates for weekly titles down south. Now, the Scottish Conservative Party is calling for the Scottish Government to look into these measures immediately - to help boost the struggling newspaper industry.

The Scottish Newspaper Society is also pushing for the Scottish Government to look into the issue.

John Lamont MSP said: “The Borders is lucky to have a number of really good and very popular weekly papers, but we all know the print media is struggling to compete with social and other online media sources.

“Business rates relief for local papers would be a welcome move and one which could only help the sector compete and recover.

“Without a doubt Borders newspapers are an incredible source of information and help make local government and other public figures accountable to the public. They provide an important service and should be protected.”

“I want the Scottish Government to look into a review of business rates as a matter of urgency to revive a flagging and much-loved industry.”

UK media affairs minister Ed Vaizey confirmed that a consultation on cutting business rates for local newspapers will begin after the general election.

Responding to a debate lanched by Labour MP John McDonnell, the minister also said reports of the death of local newspapers had been “greatly exaggerated.”

Mr Vaizey said the consultation paper on business rates would be published after the election, adding: “It could form part of a more wide ranging discussion about the future of newspapers.”

Explaining the rationale for looking at business rates, he said: “Local newspapers by definition have large buildings with large numbers of staff whereas local websites have less physical overheads. If there is a way we can help to reduce costs, looking at business rates is one obvious way of doing it.”

Earlier Mr McDonnell, secretary of the National Union of Journalists parliamentary group, said the industry had been hit by a “shocking roll call of cuts on a steep and worrying scale”.