THE LEADER of Test Valley Borough Council has welcomed cuts to business rates promised by the Chancellor in Wednesday's budget.

In response to the growing coronavirus outbreak, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £30 billion package to boost the economy and protect businesses and employees throughout the disruption caused by Covid-19.

Amongst the £12 billion of measures specifically aimed at tackling the coronavirus outbreak are a break from business rates for all companies with a rateable value under £51,000.

"That is a tax cut worth over £1bn, saving each business up to £25,000," Mr Sunak said in Parliament.

Reacting to the news yesterday, Cllr Phil North (Con), leader of TVBC, said that the measures would mean that most small and medium size businesses in the town centre will pay no business rates at all during the next financial year.

Initially, a 50 per cent discount was due.

Cllr North said: "Fantastic news for our High Street businesses just announced by the Chancellor.

"He has also committed to a more fundamental review of business rates by the autumn - which I hope will make things much fairer for the High Street versus online retailers."

It comes after Cllr North called for a "fundamental review of the business rates system".

Speaking at a council meeting last month, he said: “We do need – and I’ve made this point to central government on numerous occasions – that we need a more fundamental review of the business rates system to make it fairer for high street businesses against online retailers,” he added.

Andover BID also welcomed this as "great news" for the town's businesses.

The Chancellor also announced a £500 million "hardship fund" will be given to councils to help vulnerable people in the area.

Banks will also be able to offer loans of up to £1.2 million to support small and medium-sized businesses.

However, questions were raised over whether these measures meet the fiscal rules set out by the Conservatives in their election manifesto, after the Office for Budget Responsibility said that this was the biggest budget giveaway since 1992.