PPA Blog

PPA Update: How PPA are Supporting Publishers Through COVID-19

By Jess Browne-Swinburne

5 May 2020

As the ongoing pandemic and fallout from COVID-19 continues to impact our businesses and lives, the PPA continues to support the publishing industry, specifically through our lobbying work.

PPA is engaging with government officials on a daily basis, including a weekly call with DCMS ministers, to highlight the latest developments and industry intelligence. To help meet the challenges we face as an industry, PPA has called on Government to implement measures to help mitigate the immediate impact of this crisis. These have included:

· Zero-rating VAT on digital publications: Having successfully lobbied for the zero-rating of VAT on digital publications, announced in the March Budget, we pushed for the implementation date to be brought forward from December 1 to help publishers monetise digital audiences. Last week, the Chancellor confirmed a new implementation date and we are pleased to report that from last Friday (May 1) all digital publications are zero-rated. Full details here.

· Extension of the business rate relief package: Currently limited to only ‘leisure, entertainment and retail’ sectors, we are calling for an expanded definition to include publishers, especially B2B publishers and those with live events and exhibition businesses who have been hit the hardest. This is an ongoing ask and we are working with partners across the creative industries on business rate relief.

· Phased extension of the Job Retention Scheme: While many businesses have furloughed employees under the CJRS, the scheme will need to be extended and wound down in a phased manner to allow businesses to bring those employees back to full-time work and avoid large scale redundancies.

· Government advertising campaign: Our sector has a proven record of delivering attention grabbing advertising and is well placed to deliver complex messages to bespoke, engaged audiences. We are seeking a sector specific package with government advertising spend in Q2 and Q3 across consumer magazine and business information brands, complimenting the advertising partnership between government and the newspaper industry.

· Support for SMEs who do not qualify for Small Business Rate Relief: Extension to the cash grants provided to businesses who qualify for the Small Business Rate Relief to a turnover based criteria. This would benefit those who are based in serviced offices (and therefore don’t pay rates) or are London based in small offices, but have high Rateable Values exceeding the £51,000 threshold. In response to this call, the government has introduced a local grant scheme and Bounce Back Loan scheme offering 100% government guaranteed loans up to £50k.

Additionally, we have successfully lobbied to change the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) following feedback from members on their experience of the scheme. This includes the amendment of the viability tests so that all banks will need to assess is whether a business was viable pre COVID-19.

Early on in this crisis, we were able to confirm key worker status for magazine journalists and vital ancillary staff (print, distribution, etc), ensuring the continued production and distribution of print magazines to retailers and subscribers throughout lockdown. We also continue to engage with Royal Mail on postal and delivery changes. This week we have successfully secured the inclusion of magazine media in OFCOM’s Weekly Tracker of COVID-19 news consumption habits and trust barometer.

Finally, we recently launched a new interactive series, PPA Live, a weekly webinar on how the industry is responding to COVID-19 and pivoting business models. We’ve covered employment advice, The Big Issue’s retail and digital strategy, and podcasting, with scheduled sessions on virtual awards and subscriptions marketing. You can view all the recordings here.