BUSINESSES have welcomed the emergency support handed out by the chancellor to help with the coronavirus crisis – but lamented a lack of detail in other areas.

Rishi Sunak’s budget revealed a £30billion package to stimulate the economy, hours after the Bank of England announced a cut in interest rates.

Key measures included:

n A business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality firms with a rateable value of under £51,000.

n Statutory sick pay from the first day employees self-isolate, with the government covering the cost for up to 14 days for companies with up to 250 staff.

n Quicker and easier access to benefits for the self-employed and "gig economy" workers who cannot claim statutory sick pay.

n A coronavirus business interruption loan scheme.

The Office for Budget Responsibility described it as the biggest “budget giveaway” since 1992, adding around £100billion to public borrowing by 2024.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed the measures to help during the coronavirus crisis.

“Furthermore, the chancellor announced a review later this year into business rates, which is something that we and the British Chambers of Commerce have been campaigning for,” he said.

“We also welcome extra money for research and development because we have some fantastic businesses in Dorset who will benefit from it.

“Many of our rural businesses will be pleased that relief on red diesel will continue in the agriculture, fishing and rail industries.

“Another encouraging thing was the reiteration of the government’s plan to invest £5bn to help spread ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband ISP networks across the UK by the end of 2025, as well as to push it into new build homes.”

But he said there was little about infrastructure in the south and south west.

Chris Downing, director at Poole accountancy firm Inspire, said: “The speech started with a specific package of measures for the ever moving Covid19/corona position. He then did qualify all subsequent figures were pending the impact of corona so there is an element of guesswork involved.

“Even then, he acknowledged we are heading into a position of having no momentum to ride out the short-term effects. He was however then strangely short on economic data and talking around the public debt etc.”

Nigel Smith, managing partner at Bournemouth-headquartered Ellis Jones Solicitors, said: “It is reassuring that the government has made coronavirus a priority in such challenging times both for the population generally and for businesses. It is good that they have reacted so quickly.

“However, it is very disappointing that the much talked about changes to stamp duty land tax (SDLT) didn’t happen – SDLT is a noose around the neck of the housing market.

“When will a government learn that by changing SDLT not only will they bolster the housing market but that they will also increase trade for small businesses who supply to that market?”

David Squire, managing director of Yellow Buses, welcomed investment in roads and a £2.5billion pothole fund.

“He claimed that will mean 50 million potholes being filled in the next five years – which is some going,” Mr Squire said.

“Poor roads wreak havoc with our buses causing costly damage and mean that the ride quality for our customers is poor.

“We will wait and see what there is in the detail of this budget and how the pledged money will improve the roads.”

Neil Andrews, managing partner at Coles Miller Solicitors, described it as “a budget to calm a nation” and welcomed the measures on sick pay.

“From a business perspective, the temporary abolition of business rates for small businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality must be welcome but there is currently a lack of detail on the adverse effects on council revenue streams,” he said.

“And the infrastructure spending – while not as headline-worthy as fighting Covid-19 – is the investment in the future, helping to keep the UK moving forward and keeping up with global competition.”

Julian Smith, tax partner at PKF Francis Clark in Poole, said: “It is a grand gesture with big numbers, very much making up for lost time, but we will wait to see just how damaged the economy is and whether the proposed spending has the desired effect and gets it done.

“His ‘blank cheque’ for coronavirus relief is reassuring and the fact he didn’t fully abolish entrepreneurs’ relief is welcome, as is more green transport funding – but, as ever, the devil will be in the detail.”

Alex Simmons, partner at the Bournemouth office of chartered accountants Saffery Champness, said: “The run-in to the budget saw many reports about possible mansion taxes, the abolition of entrepreneur’s relief and possible significant changes to the inheritance tax regime.

“In the end the coronavirus has quite rightly taken centre stage and most measures are designed to minimise the potential impact to the economy from the inevitable slow-down that it will cause.”

He said there was little about generating more tax to pay for the giveaways. “The real eye opener was the amount of investment that the government has pledged and that they now see that borrowing in a low interest rate era to fund investment to increase productivity is the new direction of travel,” he added.

Phil Hoyle, landlord of the London Tavern in Poulner, Ringwood, welcomed the chancellor’s business rate discount for pubs and the freezing of all alcohol duties.

He said: “The business rate discount from £1,000 to £5,000 is welcome – and hopefully it won’t be too little too late.

“Business rates are one of the overheads that make it extremely difficult to run a pub as a healthy, profitable business.”