Newspaper chief backs Osborne’s tax pledge

Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press.

Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press.

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George Osborne’s announcement of a plan to cut business rates for local newspapers has been welcomed.

During Wednesday’s budget the Chancellor of Exchequer revealed a consultation would be held on business rates relief for local newspapers in England.

In his sixth and final budget speech before May’s General Election, he told the Commons: “Local newspapers are a vital part of community life. We are announcing a consultation on how we can provide them with tax support.”

Further details of the announcement were contained in the 124-page Budget document which accompanied the Chancellor’s statement andhas since been published on the Treasury website.

The Chancellor’s statement read: “Local newspapers are an important source of information for local communities and a vital part of a healthy democracy. To support them as they adapt to new technology and changing circumstances, the government will consult on whether to introduce a business rates relief for local newspapers in England.”

Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press which owns this newspaper said: “We are delighted the Chancellor has recognised the crucial role local newspapers play in communities across the country.

“The local press is a continuing success story and the vital work we have done on innovation means it is as relevant as ever.

“Half the population get their news from their local paper. The consultation on business rates relief is an important recognition of one of the challenges facing the industry.

We hope today’s announcement will help our industry continue to thrive.”