Extensions to business rates relief and the furlough scheme should be announced before March’s Budget, one of the UK’s biggest business lobby groups has urged.

The furlough scheme and a raft of other business support measures are due to end in April, with any decision to extend them set to be announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget statement.

However, the CBI is calling on Mr Sunak to extend the furlough scheme for two months into June, stressing that many businesses cannot afford to wait another two months to learn whether or not they will continue to receive support.

It joined with other groups, including the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in calling for the business rates relief to be extended for three months and increase financial support for supply chains.

In a statement, the CBI director-general Tony Danker said: “Throughout the pandemic, the Treasury has listened and acted swiftly to offer businesses a lifeline. But with the latest lockdown squeezing cash flow and demand like never before, business resilience is at an all-time low.”

He added: “Almost a year of disrupted demand and extensive restrictions to company operations is taking its toll. Staff morale has taken a hit. And business resilience has hit a sobering new low.”

“The government must once again stand shoulder-to-shoulder with businesses to underwrite support for the duration, helping viable enterprises to last the course… The rule of thumb must be that business support remains in parallel to restrictions and that those measures do not come to a sudden stop, but tail off over time,” Mr Danker continued.

“Just as the lifting of restrictions will be gradual, so must changes to the Government’s sterling support to businesses.”