EXTENSIONS to the furlough scheme and stamp duty holiday as well as continued VAT cuts for pubs and restaurants and an increase in corporation tax were all announced as part of the Chancellor's annual budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the Government's Job Retention Scheme, which covers 80 per cent of employee wages, would be extended until September alongside a £20-a-week uplift in universal credit.

Mr Sunak also revealed corporation tax will increase to 25 per cent from 2023 and a Small Profits Rate will be created to ensure only businesses with profits of over £250,000 will be taxed at the new rate.

Companies with profits of less than £50,000 will still pay 19 per cent.

The stamp duty holiday for homes up to £500,000 will be extended until the end of June and will be reduced to £250,000 until the end of September.

VAT cuts for pubs, bars and restaurants will stay at five per cent for another six months before increasing to 12.5 per cent for a further six months before returning to 20 per cent next April.

Alcohol duty has been frozen for the second year running whilst fuel duty has also been frozen for the 11th year in a row.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "I think there is some really welcome support for the economy. It is really important that the furlough scheme, the self-employment income support scheme and the extra £20 on universal credit are all continued until we are well out of this crisis. I think these are sensible decisions in that respect.

"In terms of the big picture, it is welcome to see the improved forecast in growth but it is right that we have to level with people about the fact that more revenue is going to have to be raised to pay for the enormous interventions to support the economy."

In positive news for the city, Worcester has been included alongside 120 or so other towns and cities across the UK as a first priority area in the Government's Levelling Up Fund which will open up the potential for millions of pounds of investment and regeneration work in the future.

The amount of funding the city receives will be dependent on a bid which Worcester City Council will receive around £150,00 to help prepare.

Sharon Smith, chief executive of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Many business concerns have been addressed in the Chancellor's Budget with extensions to major schemes such as furlough, VAT reductions and business rates holiday.

"The Chancellor knows that businesses may not be completely ready to stand on their own when the economy re-opens. This longer-term support will give businesses confidence and provide economic sustainability throughout the year.”