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Theresa May backs call for business rates relief to be extended to local publishers

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has lent her backing to a campaign to extend the coronavirus business rates holiday to local news publishers.

Like many businesses, local newspapers have seen a significant financial impact during the COVID-19 pandemic, with advertising revenue declining sharply.

Publishers across the industry are being faced with difficult decisions to keep going during the crisis, and there have been warnings that smaller publications may face closure.

It comes at a time when trusted, quality local news has never been more important, with reporters across the country working around the clock to update readers on the latest coronavirus information.

The industry, including Advertiser publisher Baylis Media Ltd, has been lobbying the Government for support, leading to some measures to help soften the financial blow during the pandemic.

But Maidenhead MP Theresa May has backed calls for the business rates holiday, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month to help many small businesses through the crisis, to be extended.

She said: “The Maidenhead Advertiser is a highly respected local newspaper and so it is right that the Government has offered support through a number of schemes which have been welcomed by Baylis Media Ltd.

“However, an extension of the business rates holiday to local publishers would help to ease the considerable pressure they are currently facing and enable local newspapers to continue to produce trusted news and information at this time.

“As a vital part of the local community, we must make sure The Maidenhead Advertiser can remain open for business.”

Baylis Media Ltd chief executive Jeremy Spooner added: “Like many other businesses in our community, we are being severely challenged by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The necessary restrictions on social movement decimate our revenue streams.

“The Government has offered support through a number of schemes, which I welcome, but more must be done to enable our journalists to continue to produce trusted news and information during this crisis.

“Furloughing all our journalists is not an option, therefore we need additional financial support from the Government and I call upon them to provide local media, whose importance is never greater than at a time of crisis, with at least the same financial support as a number of other business affected by COVID-19.

“This could be achieved by extending the business rates holiday scheme to include publishers such as Baylis Media Ltd.”

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