THE Countryside Alliance has welcomed the government's intention to cut business rates from next April.

The organisation says the move, which was announced in the Queen's Speech last week, will greatly help support small businesses.

The proposal would see the business rate relief go up from 33 per cent to 50 per cent.

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, said: "Businesses in rural areas play an important part in the economy and we must have a system which enables rural businesses to compete fairly with web-based businesses. The Countryside Alliance has long believed that we need a fairer business rate system which supports rural businesses such as post offices, riding stables and other businesses which cannot be replicated online and which make our rural economy tick.

"We need a level playing field for businesses and an overhaul of this unfair tax is required if we want a vibrant offline economy.

"The Government now has an opportunity to ensure that our local high streets can survive and thrive before it is too late with this welcome review into business rates."