Shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants will see their business rates bills cut by £1,000.

Government business rates relief will be granted to retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000 for two years, after Richmond Council agreed to the scheme at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 13.

The council said about 2,000 businesses in the borough stood to benefit and it was hoped it will attract small businesses to the borough’s high streets.

A discount of 50 per cent on business rates for 18 months was also made available for new businesses that open in previously empty shops.

Sandra Birss, director of Whitton Pet Centre, said: “Any help is welcome as it is very tough to open or maintain small businesses during a recession.”

Cabinet member for finance Councillor Geoffrey Samuel said the council would do everything it could to support local businesses.

He said: “Businesses are the lifeblood of Richmond. If they fail, the economic fortunes of the entire borough will be jeopardised, and this council cannot, and will not, ever let this happen.”