A raft of measures in the Budget to help businesses tackle the coronavirus will save some Cumbrian firms from going under, the county’s chamber of commerce said.

The Government estimates that around a fifth of the working age population may be forced to stay away from work due the virus.

In the Budget, rewritten in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Sunak acknowledged the challenging times faced by the economy.

Mr Sunak said there was likely to be a temporary disruption to the economy but insisted his plans would bring stability and security.

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow SMEs and employers with under 250 workers to reclaim statutory sick pay for sickness absence due to coronavirus.

The Government will increase business rates retail discount to 100 per cent for 12 months and expand it to the leisure and hospitality sectors.

It will also increase the planned rates discount for pubs to £5,000.

It will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief and a new loan scheme has also been set up to support businesses.

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is already disrupting supply chains and altering consumer behaviour.

“It will create severe cashflow problems for many businesses. There’s a danger the economy could slip into recession and that some businesses could become insolvent.

“The measures will mitigate the impact and could make the difference between survival and collapse for some.”

Andrew Ashley, managing director of Clark Door in Carlisle, said: “The support is welcome for SMEs.

“I caught the train up from London this week and it was virtually empty which is obviously of concern on many levels.

“How long it will be till we are able to resume to normal business is the question on many people’s minds at the moment.

“We will all know better in two to three months’ time how serious this is going to be for our country and are planning our considered responses.”

Graham Lamont, chief executive of accountancy firm Lamont Pridmore, said: “In terms of the coronavirus measures, it isn’t too dissimilar what was done during foot and mouth – we just stopped paying the Government.

“The issue with coronavirus is cashflow and that could go on for two or three months.

“A lot of our clients are in the tourism sector and some are reporting a lot of booking cancellations.

“You have to keep in mind a month’s worth of bookings for some can be between £50,000 to £100,000 – and while that takes a hit all of the staff and running costs stay the same.

“On the other hand, given all the travel restrictions, along with the weak pound and Brexit, there will be an increase in staycations.”

Lindsay Farrer, partner at Cumbrian accountants Saint & Co, said: “I have spoken to lots businesses who are very worried about how coronavirus will affect them and the uncertainty it brings. They will welcome the announcements made by the Government.”

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, added: “It is encouraging to see a proactive response from the Government in today’s budget, particularly around the developing coronavirus situation.

“Tourism and hospitality businesses with a rateable value below the £51,000 threshold appear likely to benefit from the business rate abolition which will hopefully help mitigate against any financial losses.”

Darren Wildey, managing director of DPW Bodyworks in Longtown, near Carlisle, added: "Like all SMEs, we welcome the business rates relief.

"There is a lot of uncertainty across all industries as to how the local economy will be impacted over the next few months, so this goes a little way to help."