ASDA has become the fourth supermarket to pay its business rates of £340m in full, waiving the relief it received due to Covid.

The supermarket says the relief was vital to ensure it could keep operating during the pandemic and meet the unexpected associated costs like paying its shielding staff in full and making stores safe, as well as supporting charities.

But now the company's president says it's time to "do the right thing for the communities it serves" and hopes to discuss with Government where the money will be spent.

Sainsbury's today announced it will hand over £440 million, while Tesco will give back £585 million and Morrisons £274 million. Together, over £1.6 billion will be returned to Government.

Asda President and CEO Roger Burnley said: "Throughout the pandemic we have always sought to do the right thing – fulfilling our role in feeding the nation, protecting our colleagues and supporting our communities.

"But, as the hope of a vaccine and a more ‘normal’ life returning in 2021 grows, we have confidence that we are in a strong position to again do the right thing for the communities we serve.

"Almost half our customers are telling us they expect their financial position to worsen in the next 12 months and we recognise that there are other industries and businesses for whom the effects of Covid-19 will be much more long-lasting and whose survival is essential to thousands of jobs.

"We will therefore be discussing with the Government and Devolved Authorities the best mechanism to ensure the relief we have received can go towards helping those that need it most."

During the pandemic, Asda also recruited 22,000 additional employees to cover absence and increased demands in stores and it did not furlough a single employee.