Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce an extension to the year-long business rates holiday and furlough scheme, in the Budget next month.

The business rates holiday had been due to expire on 31 March while the furlough scheme was to come to an end at the end of April. It is expected that the furlough scheme will be extended further, into the summer months, before being phased out, according to the Financial Times.

It also reported that Sunak will announce later today (Friday 19 February), that he will be delaying a final report on a review of business rates until later this year. The review forms part of his promise to “level the playing field” between the high street and online retailers.

It is understood that the report is being delayed to allow him to make decisions when some of the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic has receded.

Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics has found that one in five workers were on furlough in the two weeks to 7 January – up from 18% in the previous two-week period, but was lower than the spring lockdown when 30% of workers were on furlough in June last year.