BUSINESSES have welcomed a tax holiday as they suffer the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, delivering his first Budget yesterday, announced all retail, leisure and hospitality firms occupying property worth less than £51,000 will not have to pay business rates this year.

The move was welcomed by Brighton business owners already feeling the financial consequences of the spread.

Cin Cin restaurant owner David Toscano welcomed the move but worried about the virus’s impact on business.

“We started to see the effects last week,” the 42-year-old said. “Today we had a table of ten who cancelled because they were quite stressed about whether it was safe for them to go out for lunch together.

“We’ve seen a drop in walk-in customers too because there are less people in the streets. We’re still at the beginning of this so we don’t know what’s going to happen. But business rates reduction will help most independent restaurants in the city.”

Frank Taylor, owner of Cult Hero record shop in Brighton Place, called the Government’s announcement “almost too good to be true”.

“Being a small retailer, any discount on anything is a blessing,” the 34-year-old said. “Say what you like about the Conservatives but they couldn’t have done much more to help small business on this front.

“There are still plenty of overheads but that is a big help for definite.”

Gavin Stewart of the Brighton’s Business Improvement District said business had suffered in recent weeks.

“Particularly in Brighton and Hove we have seen a really tough February because of the awful weather and coronavirus,” he said.

“At the moment we’re waiting to see what happens in the next few months. But there’s always a worry because a large swathe of Brighton and Hove’s economy is tourism.

“We want people to come to Brighton but that doesn’t mix well with self-isolation.”

The business rates holiday was part of a £7 billion coronavirus fighting fund announced yesterday.

A scheme will be introduced for banks to offer loans to small businesses. Sick pay will be extended to all of those in self-isolation and the Government will compensate businesses with fewer than 250 employees if their workers are off sick.

The Budget also promised to invest £26 billion in roads and freeze duties on beer, cider, wine and spirits as well as fuel duty for another year.

Mr Sunak announced that the so-called tampon tax will be abolished and VAT on books, newspapers, magazines and academic journals would be scrapped.

The Treasury said it would make £120 million available to repair defences damaged in the winter floods, and the Government plans to double investment in flood defences to £5.2 billion over six years.