Measures announced in last year’s Pre-Budget Report to help businesses struggling with cashflow have been extended in the main Budget.

HMRC will continue to work with businesses to spread tax payments over a timetable they can afford.

So far more than 100,000 businesses have spread tax payments worth almost £2bn.

In addition, from this April, companies expecting to make a loss will be able to offset this against any tax bills due on profits from previous years.

The ability to carry back losses of up to £50,000 against the previous three years’ profits has been extended until November 2010.

There are new first year capital allowances of 40% for one year with effect from April, but they only apply to firms investing over £50,000 in qualifying plant and machinery. Firms investing less than £50,000 will continue under the present 20% regime.

The Chancellor Alistair Darling confirmed the present VAT reduction was a temporary measure, but there was not hint as to how it might rise at the end of December. Neither was there any concession on the rise in National Insurance contributions due from April 2011.