Labour Continues To Press On Business Rates Relief For News Media

Labour have continued to press the Government over business rates relief for news media, urging Ministers this morning to bring in the measure “before we lose even more valued local newspapers.”

In DCMS questions Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Labour MP for Slough, said calls for business rates relief for news media had “fallen on deaf ears,” despite local newspapers playing a “vital role in our local democracy.”

In July, Shadow Leader of the House Valerie Vaz, Walsall South MP, wrote to the Treasury to highlight “the lack of financial support” that news publishers have received during the pandemic and to call for an extension of the one-year business rates holiday to newspaper publishers.

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.”

Speaking in the House of Commons this morning Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said: “We in Slough are fortunate to have two brilliant local newspapers, the Slough Express and the Slough Observer, which play a vital role in our local democracy and ensuring that the good people of Slough are well informed with reliable and accurate news reporting.

“But like many of their counterparts across our country, local journalism is under threat. Their trade body, News Media Association, has repeatedly called for business rates relief but those calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears, and the National Union of Journalists has proposed a detailed news recovery plan to ensure that the survival of excellent journalism is there for all of us.

“So can the Minister advise, before we lose even more valued local newspapers, when will the Government finally listen to and support this important sector?”

The Minister John Whittingdale responded: “I have no doubt that the newspapers in the honourable gentleman’s constituency are doing an excellent job and I have had a number of conversations with the News Media Association and other publishing organisations.

“The Government has extended the £1,500 business rates relief for local newspaper offices, but obviously we will continue to look at what additional measures we can take to support newspapers.”