Call for urgent action to stop older workers leaving workforce

The Chancellor has announced a review of the state pension age and of ways to get economically inactive people back to work.

Older woman sitting in front of laptop in a boardroom with colleages


Read about National Older Workers Week

The Chancellor has announced plans for a review of the issues preventing people from working as well as a review of the pension age in view of ongoing labour market shortages.

Delivering his Autumn Statement yesterday, Jeremy Hunt announced the reviews and said the government would ask more than 600,000 further people on universal credit to meet a “work coach” so that they “can get the support they need” to increase their hours or earnings.

Phoenix Group welcomed the reviews, but said that money saved from extending the pension age had to be ploughed back into supporting those who couldn’t work longer. It added that urgent action was needed to reverse the trend of over-50s dropping out of the workforce.

Research from Phoenix Insights, Phoenix Group’s longevity think tank, has found there are a combination of factors that have contributed to the ‘Great Retirement’ in the UK, including negative attitudes towards remaining in employment.

Catherine Foot, Director at Phoenix Insights, said: “The onus is on employers to change this perception through enabling flexible working, supporting staff with caring responsibilities, tackling age-bias in recruitment and investing in lifelong learning.

“As well as the impact on income, not working can have damaging impacts on long term financial security, with the later years providing a real boost to retirement savings. We need to help individuals stay in work for as long as they want and need in order to build financial security and wellbeing to and through retirement.”

On the state pension, she added: “Nearly half of the population rely on the state pension for the majority of their income later in life. There is a pressing need to support people through the expected transition to a later pension age – especially those facing health issues, redundancy or caring responsibilities, who are among those most likely to be negatively impacted…Living longer is one of the greatest gifts of the 21st century, but it’s one the UK really needs to plan for.”

Phoenix Insights recent Reaching a certain age report, recommends a package of support measures that includes:

  • An engagement campaign to target those who will be affected first by any change
  • Greater investment in tailored job support and preventative workplace health programmes, and support for working carers for people during the five years before the new state pension age
  • A programme of support from mid-life onwards, including mid-life MOTs, age-inclusive campaigns, access to lifelong learning and preventative health at work programmes.

Phoenix Group is sponsoring next week’s National Older Workers Week,  a series of four free events which will focus on best practice in recruiting and retaining older workers and an action plan, backed by a new toolkit.


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