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Industry welcomes parliamentary vote for newspaper rates relief extension

John McLellanIndustry chiefs have welcomed a parliamentary vote in favour of extending business rates relief for newspapers.

HTFP reported earlier this week how newspaper bosses in Scotland had warned of an “immediate crisis” facing the industry over the Scottish Government’s to end 100pc relief for media organisations at the end of March.

But opposition parties in Holyrood have now succeeded in passing a motion by Conservative MSP Graham Simpson calling on the Scottish National Party administration to continue the scheme.

Scottish Newspaper Society director John McLellan has welcomed the outcome of the vote.

John, pictured, said: “The SNS is obviously very pleased that for the second time the Scottish Parliament has agreed that news publishing is an essential sector which must be supported through the crisis.

“Business rates relief and the advertising investment package agreed with the Scottish Government last year were both due to end on 31 March, and with the severe economic impact of lockdown set to extend well into the autumn, Scottish news publishers were facing a real cliff edge.

“It is by no means certain that the business rates relief extension will be included in the Scottish Government’s budget, but as the Scottish Parliament has twice expressed its support for the sector it would be anti-democratic to go against that will.”

The SNP had previously opposed extending full rates relief to newspapers last May when MSPs amended the Coronavirus Scotland (No2) Bill as it went through Parliament.

During a debate ahead of the latest vote, SNP Trade Minister Ivan McKee described rates relief as a “blunt tool” which could provide the biggest benefit to those who need it least.

He instead said advertising support had been the “most effective way to direct resources into the sector”, adding: “It enables more effective targeting where support is needed most, in particular towards those local newspapers which are the main focus of this debate.”