More than half a million companies are at risk of collapsing by the spring unless the government extends Covid support schemes.

The left-of-centre Institute for Public Policy Research found that half of hospitality, food and other specialist service companies had less than three months’ cash, as did 40% of arts and entertainment businesses.

IPPR said the government should use the March budget to extend the furlough scheme, which ends in April, provide more grants and offer companies cash injections in return for equity stakes held by the state in a “Citizens’ Wealth Fund”.

Rival think-tank, the Resolution Foundation, said that companies overall were faring well, with corporate cash holdings rising during the pandemic and insolvencies for 2020 25% lower than in 2019.