MPs call for business rates holiday to be extended to news publishers
Black Country MPs have urged the Government to extend the business rates holiday for publishers to help save the newspaper industry.
The Treasury announced that industries including retail, hospitality and leisure would be exempt from paying business rates this year to help firms survive the coronavirus crisis.
But news publishers have not been included on the list of exempt industries.
They say the decision has put added financial pressure on newspapers, many of which have seen revenues plummet since the UK's lockdown began last week.
MPs across the political divide have today called on Ministers to extend the concession to new publishers.
Former Business Minister Pat McFadden, the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, said: "The current crisis with many shops closed and the public being asked to stay home poses a huge threat to newspapers around the country.
"The Express & Star is a vital part of life in the Black Country. From the smallest local story to the biggest international news it is part of how we see ourselves and the world around us.
"The Government has stepped up to help a number of sectors through this unprecedented crisis through rate relief and I hope this can be done for local newspapers too."
Jane Stevenson, the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton North East, said she would be speaking to Ministers regarding the issue.
"Local newspapers are providing a valuable public service in keeping people informed during this crisis," she said.
"The Government has come up with a pretty spectacular package to keep things moving, and it would be nice to see publishers included in this policy."
Wolverhampton South West MP Stuart Anderson, said: "These measures are all about keeping the economy afloat and getting businesses the support they need.
"We need the media to be disseminating this vital information. They are essential and we are not going to get the message out without newspapers.
"I think extending the business rates holiday to publishers is certainly something that I would like to see the Government consider."
Last week it was announced that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that closed due to measures to restrict the spread of Covid-19 had been added to the list of exempt industries.