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Planning Retirement Online

The good and bad news about
employing the over fifties
                                   October 2004

Amazon Book - Too young to retire A new report, Welfare to work: Tackling the barriers to the employment of older people,
from the National Audit Office, states that good progress has been made in recent years in increasing the overall employment rate for older people. But there’s much room for improvement.

  • The gap between the proportion of older people in work compared to the general working population has narrowed by 1 per cent over the last year.

  • Improving the position of older people in the labour market and tackling age discrimination in the workplace are key elements of the Government’s employment strategy.

  • However, substantial regional and local variations remain in employment rates for older people and in the number who are economically inactive, with areas like the North East and Wales having particularly high levels of inactivity.

  • The relatively low levels of employment among older workers costs the economy ?19-?31 billion a year, mostly in lost output but also because of reduced taxes and increased welfare payments.

  • Around 2.7 million people between 50 and state pension age do not work.

  • Currently, almost half of these are receiving incapacity benefits, many on a long-term basis.

  • Between 700,000 and one million of those currently inactive say they would like to work, with some 200,000 seeking employment, although they are confronted by one or more barriers to finding a job.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report examines the progress that has been made in helping older people overcome the barriers to employment. These barriers include relatively low levels of skills, age discrimination by some employers, health problems, low confidence and negative attitudes to employment.

The NAO found that a scheme specifically for older workers - New Deal 50 Plus - has helped more than 120,000 people into work at an estimated cost of ?270 million, although an unknown number of these people would have found jobs anyway.

Other employment and training programmes (in particular, the New Deal 25 Plus and Work Based Learning for Adults) have helped a further 70,000 older people into work over the last five years.

Jobcentre Plus is increasing the flexibility within its programmes in order to better meet the individual needs of people facing acute or multiple barriers to work. This includes piloting new approaches to help people claiming incapacity benefits return to work.

The report notes that older people still have relatively low levels of participation in most forms of training and education, which they need in order to compete more effectively in the labour market. They are also under-represented in their use of Information, Advice and Guidance Partnerships, which are a valuable source of help for people who are out of work.

The report also identifies age discrimination on the part of some employers as an ongoing and significant problem. Legislation to outlaw such discrimination is expected in October 2006 but there has been a delay in issuing the draft regulations for consultation.

However the Government has announced a national guidance campaign in advance of the legislation to further enable employers to adopt age positive employment practices and to encourage the recruitment, training Amazon Book - The Good Retirement Guideand retention of older workers.

We at  support Age Positive, the Government campaign to encourage older people back to work.

For more information, see the NAO website at 



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