Number of unemployed over 50 rises amid ‘money drain’ from workplace | older people

The number of people aged 50 to 64 who are economically inactive in the UK has climbed to 3.6million. It represents an increase of nearly 10% since before the pandemic, providing powerful evidence of a post-Covid “money drain” from the workplace.

Other findings published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week – and seized on by the Labor Party as a sign of government failure at a time of near-record vacancies and labor shortages – include data showing that 375,000 people over the age of 50 were claiming unemployment benefits. last month.

That total of over 50s receiving state support while looking for a job rose by 65,000 from the month immediately before the pandemic, and comes as vacancies stood at more than 1.274 million.

The total of 375,000 people over 50 receiving unemployment benefits is also 173,000 higher than five years ago. Among 16-64 year olds classified as inactive, 20% (1.7 million people) want a job. The ONS Over 50 Lifestyle Study published in March found that 39% of those who quit or lost their jobs during the pandemic would consider returning to paid work in the future, people in their 50s being almost twice as likely to consider this (58%) as people aged 60 and over (31%). There were no significant differences between men and women.

Last night Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the latest data proved the need for sweeping reform of government support to help people who want to work find jobs as quickly as possible.

“We are in a cost of living crisis, with employers struggling to fill vacancies, but ministers have sat back and let the workforce dwindle since the pandemic,” he said. he declares.

“The staggering rise in the number of unemployed and ‘economically inactive’ under the Tories is the worst among G7 countries. And now that the Bank of England is forecasting a recession and a sharp rise in unemployment, reforming employment support is an urgent and pressing priority to help grow our economy, help people find work and ensure standard of living.

If Labor forms the next government, Ashworth wants to focus on providing much more specialist help, including for all over-50s and the long-term sick who intend to return to where they were. work.

This will focus on the underlying causes of unemployment: poor health, including poor mental health, as well as a lack of workplace flexibility and inadequate and poorly targeted employment support. Labor says the government’s ‘jobs plan’ – schemes to get people back to work – is set to underspend by £2billion due to policy failures that have left money unused.

Research by Ashworth’s team shows that 77 constituencies have seen a 50% or more increase in the number of over-50s claiming unemployment compared to the pre-pandemic period.

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “During the pandemic, we have supported over half a million jobseekers aged 50 and over through our 50 Plus Choices offer, and there are currently 267 000 fewer people in this age bracket who receive benefits than at the height of the pandemic.

“We are investing an additional £22m to tackle over-50 unemployment. This investment is paying off, as last month more than 190,000 people between the ages of 50 and 64 joined the company’s payroll, and 2 million additional workers [aged] 50 and older work than in 2010.”

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