Financial support

MSPs vote for newspaper rates relief extension


Newspapers provide vital link to communities

Opposition parties have backed Tory MSP Graham Simpson’s call for business rates relief on newspapers to continue into the 2021/22 financial year.

A Scottish Government amendment which tried to make the issue part of the ongoing budget process failed by 63 votes to 62.

The Conservatives pointed out that Scottish Government will extend 100% rates relief to the retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors for at least three months from April at a cost of £185m. To do the same for the newspaper industry would cost only £1million.

During the debate Mr Simpson said a vibrant newspaper sector was “essential for local democracy” and added: “For democracy to thrive it needs checks and balances. That debate is very much live here in Scotland right now.

“A vibrant press is one of those checks and we must all be prepared to be subject to the full glare of publicity, good and bad.”

Trade Minister Ivan McKee responded for the Scottish Government, saying newspapers had been supported in other ways including through advertising.

He agreed an independent media is “central to a strong democracy” and local newspapers were particularly important in holding power to account.

But he said rates relief was a “blunt tool” which could provide the biggest benefit to those who need it least and pointed to an investment of £3m through government advertising spend on public health information.

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