Traders have welcomed an offer of lower rates for small businesses.

Savings of up to £1,000 a year have been approved by Redbridge Council over the next two years to boost the local economy.

The scheme, agreed on Thursday, will apply to businesses in premises with an annual rental value of less than £50,000.

Gulwant Chahil, owner of Vanity Beauty in High Street, Barkingside, said: “We have only just started out as a business in November and business rates are really high.

“This will be a great help and it is brilliant that the council are helping out small businesses that are suffering.

“So many shops have closed down on the High Street and we have been struggling so we are really happy with the council’s scheme.”

Nighat Munir, owner of Lagoon Dry Cleaners in High Street, Barkingside, said: “It is so important because we are paying a lot of rates, over £12,000 a year.

“While it is a small amount to be saving it is better than nothing and we are happy to accept the relief as it will definitely help out.

“Business is really tough at the moment and we are only just paying our bills, but we have high hopes for the future and we are grateful for the council’s help.”

Retail relief will apply from April 1 and eligible businesses must apply to the council.

Deputy leader Ian Bond said: “It will provide extra relief to smaller businesses and in particular retailers many of which have been struggling.

“We will try and encourage businesses to take it up.”