The SNP must urgently perform a u-turn on their decision to scrap business rates relief for the newspaper industry at the end of next month, the Scottish Conservatives have said.
SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes confirmed the move in a letter to the Scottish Newspaper Society.
Shadow Finance Secretary Murdo Fraser is now calling for the plan to be reversed, saying it threatens to leave Scotland as the only country in Europe not providing Covid related support to newspaper publishers.
In May last year the Scottish Conservatives secured cross-party support to provide relief support for local newspapers at the height of the pandemic, despite SNP MSPs opposing the move.
Commenting, Scottish Conservative Shadow Finance Secretary Murdo Fraser said: “This decision to scrap rates relief is a real slap in the face to journalists and the industry who are working tirelessly to provide vital news to readers about the pandemic in particular.
“The SNP are threatening to leave Scotland as the only country in Europe not providing publishers with crucial Covid related support. That will only threaten jobs and livelihoods across national and local newspapers.
“The Scottish Conservatives have called for business rates relief to be extended for the whole of this year as we rebuild our economy after the pandemic. The SNP have a record budget from the UK Government so it beggars belief that they can’t find the funding to support our newspaper publishers.
“SNP MSPs failed to stand up for newspapers last year. Now they are showing contempt for publications which are essential in the communities they serve.
“As a matter of urgency Kate Forbes must listen to the industry and reverse this illogical decision.”
Notes: Murdo Fraser previously called for newspapers to be given the same relief support as the retail, leisure and hospitality industries in May last year, which the SNP opposed: