Wednesday 22 February 2017 4:26 pm

Sajid Javid has just signalled a Budget concession on business rates

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has today signalled a government concession on support for firms facing substantial hikes in business rates later this year.

The government has previously promised a £3.6bn package for transition measures, but Javid said today that he was working closely with chancellor Philip Hammond on demands for further support.

Despite defending the incoming regime, and stating that three quarters of business will either see their business rates reduce or stay flat, Javid said: "It is clear to me that more needs to be done to level the playing field and to make the system fairer."

Javid cited in particular the challenges faced by high street businesses  and independent shops in competing with online retailers.

Read More: Sadiq Khan "shocked" at business rate rise threatening London's small firms

"I am working closely with my right honourable friend the chancellor to determine how best to provide further support to business facing the steepest increases," he said.

"We expect to be in a position to make an announcement at the time of the Budget in just two weeks."

It comes after the government has faced growing pressure on business rates – London's Conservative MPs have been planning to push for more concessions for the capital's firms, many of which have faced substantial increases.

Read More: Should business rates be scrapped?

And it marks a u-turn for the government – Javid and Hammond had previously moved to reassure Conservative MPs, providing details of the average rate changes across constituencies, and hitting out at "half-truths" and "misinformation" on the expected changes to business rates.

However, the numbers provided by the government have since been questioned, with reports suggesting that ministers may have understated the increases.