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Lockdown has led to a big rise in the number of over 50s claiming Universal Credit, according to a new analysis, which highlights a need for more support for older workers to get back into work in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of Universal Credit claims made by the over 50s more than doubled in May compared with March, rising from 304,000 to nearly 660,000 in just two months, according to new analysis.
The analysis of provisional data from the Office of National Statistics by Rest Less, a website for the over 50s, shows that the number of Universal Credit claims in May represent approximately six per cent of over 50s who are in work or actively looking for work. Rest Less says its highlights how many over 50s have less than £16K in savings as this is required to be eligible for UC.
Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, said: “The surge in older claimants highlights the extremely precarious financial situation that many of this demographic find themselves in today. With eligibility criteria requiring less than £16,000 of savings to qualify, this highlights how little of a financial buffer people have been able to save, despite many having worked hard for more than three decades already.
“Prior to the pandemic, we already knew that older workers were more likely to be in long term unemployment, were less likely to receive workplace training than their younger counterparts and were extremely likely to face age discrimination in the recruitment process.
“In a year when the state pension age increases to 66, and with more over 50s claiming Universal Credit than those under 25, this is a wake-up call for Government policy which, in the wake of the current unemployment crisis, MUST lay out more support for getting the over 50s back into work – to help them retrain, reskill and be welcomed back into the workplace post-pandemic. Without significant training and workplace support, the fear is of a lost generation of highly talented, older workers forced permanently into a miserable and unaffordable early retirement.”