SMALL businesses in Worcester have welcomed a high street tax break announced this week.

Shops and restaurants that qualify will automatically receive a £1,000 discount in their business rate bills in 2014 and 2015 according to the department for communities and local government.

Around 300,000 businesses nationwide will be eligible for the break which is designed to keep the high street at the heart of communities.

In Worcester, Mark Stewart who owns Wise Owl Toys in Charles Street welcomed the move.

He said: "From our perspective it certainly helps.

"I wouldn't say it has been easy the last couple of years and it's very welcome.

"Anything that takes less tax is always appreciated.

"We seem to spend most of our time paying out in VAT, corporation tax and rent.

"Anything to get costs down is useful and will help keep us going.

"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and make each city and place different and worth visiting.

"If you don't have us the High Streets are all the same."

Sarah Lloyd-Rumens, of Sub Studio Photography, in Copenhagen Street said the discount would free up money her company could spend on generating more customers.

She said: "It's great because there's so many overheads especially if you are in the city centre.

"If having a little bit of money off encourages a few more small businesses to open I think that's fab."

High Streets minister Brandon Lewis said: "This is just one part of our £1billion support package that also includes sensible changes to overzealous parking rules and planning rules that will keep high streets at the heart of communities for decades to come.”

To be eligible, businesses must be occupied and have a rateable value, used to calculate bills, below £50,000.