GEORGE Osborne has announced a consultation to examine a tax break for local newspapers in England, saying they are a “vital part of community life”.
The Budget announcement came as Mr Osborne acknowledged regional titles have had a “tough time in recent years”.
The Government will consider whether to introduce a business rates relief for local newspapers.
Mr Osborne told MPs: “Local newspapers are a vital part of community life but they’ve had a tough time in recent years, so today we announce a consultation on how we can provide them with tax support.”
The consultation was welcomed by Johnston Press, the parent company of the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail.
Chief executive Ashley Highfield 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.”