The UK's furlough scheme will be extended until October.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the measure today.

At least 6.3 million people are currently having up to 80 per cent of their salaries paid by the taxpayer under the furlough system at a cost of some £8 billion.

Mr Sunak has previously said he was preparing to "wean" workers and businesses off the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - which currently runs until the end of June - but calls have been made for it to be prolonged.

There will be no changes to the scheme until the end of July, Mr Sunak said.

From August to October the scheme will continue, for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with "greater flexibility" to support the transition back to work, he added.

Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

The Government will ask employers to start sharing the costs of paying people’s salaries with it, he said.

He added: "Further detail will follow by the end of May but I want to assure people one thing won’t change.

"Workers will, through the combined efforts of government and employers, continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80 per cent of their salary, up to £2,500."

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: “The extension of the Job Retention Scheme will come as a huge help and a huge relief for businesses across the UK.

“The Chancellor is once again listening to what we’ve been saying, and the changes planned will help businesses bring their people back to work through the introduction of a part-time furlough scheme.

"We will engage with the Treasury and HMRC on the detail to ensure that this gives companies the flexibility they need to reopen safely.

“Our research shows that the scheme has become a key part of wider government support for businesses, with more than 70 per cent of firms surveyed furloughing a portion of their staff.

“Over the coming months, the Government should continue to listen to business and evolve the scheme in line with what’s happening on the ground.

"Further support may yet be needed for companies who are unable to operate for an extended period, or those who face reduced capacity or demand due to ongoing restrictions.”