Fears 660,000 over 50s face Universal Credit for YEARS after Rishi Sunak announcement

Fears 660,000 over 50s face Universal Credit for YEARS after Rishi Sunak announcement

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a new £2billion “kickstart scheme” to create more jobs for young people in the House of Commons today. However, following the announcement, a warning about the impact it could have on the over 50s has been issued.

“These will be new jobs – with the funding conditional on the firm proving these jobs are additional.

“These will be decent jobs – with a minimum of 25 hours per week paid at least the national minimum wage.”

However, despite welcoming the scheme, concern for those in the over 50s age group seeking employment has been raised.

Analysis of Office of National Statistics data by Rest Less has found Universal Credit claims from the over 50s increased by more than 355,000 between March and May this year.

This takes the total number of Universal Credit claims among this age group to nearly 660,000.

In comparison, there has been an increase of nearly 288,000 claims among the under 25s in the same time period.

Based on data to April 2020, inactivity levels amongst 50 to 64 year olds increased by more than 48,000 in a month and are now at their highest level ever at 3.3 million.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, said: “The government is right to commit resources to support youth employment in its ‘kickstart’ scheme but the current policy will significantly distort the labour market, reduce permanent job creation and make it much harder for other under-represented groups like the over 50s to find work.

“Pre-pandemic, workers aged over 50 were more likely to be made redundant, to be in long term unemployment, to have less access to workplace training and to face heightened age discrimination in the recruitment process post-pandemic.

“Following today’s announcement, with more over 50s claiming Universal Credit than those under 24, and redundancies surging, why would any company create a permanent role and hire a 61 year old who has just been made redundant, when they could hire a 23 year old for free on a temporary six month basis?

“With 660,000 over 50s claiming Universal Credit in May (up from 304,000 in March) and the state pension age increasing to 66 this year – given the known challenges facing the over 50s in the recruitment process, we expect hundreds of thousands of over 50s to be forced into an early retirement they cannot afford, living off Universal Credit until they reach the state pension age – which could be as long as 10-15 years.

“We need to see the Government launch initiatives to help the whole of Britain get back to work, not just one section of the population, at the detriment of others.

“We would like to see the Government launch specific initiatives to support financially precarious older workers back into the workplace – as they have done with young people – which focus on dedicated retraining and upskilling programmes such as later life apprenticeships, tailored entrepreneurship support for older workers and financial incentives for businesses to hire older workers like the Australian Restart programme.”

Support for people over 25 is something which Mr Sunak was asked about today, following his statement.

He replied: “We are introducing a payment to businesses to take on apprentices over the age of 25. £1,500 per apprentice taken on.

“That is for the simple reason that whilst most people think of apprentices as young people, 44 percent or so of new apprentice starts are actually over the age of 25 and it’s important that we provide that financial incentive at this time of economic distress to try and create as many new apprenticeships as possible, including for those who are older – who will also benefit of course from all our other universal skills interventions that my right honourable friend the Pension Secretary and the Education Secretary will take forward.”

Elsewhere in the 2020 summer statement, Mr Sunak announced he was temporarily cutting Stamp Duty Land Tax.

In the House of Commons, he said: “Today I am increasing the threshold to half a million pounds.”

The Chancellor explained the temporary change would take effect immediately, and it would last until March 31 next year.

It means buyers purchasing a main home for less than £500,000 will pay no Stamp Duty at all – working out at nine out of 10 people of main home buyers paying no SDLT at all – saving people £4,500 on average.

Published at Wed, 08 Jul 2020 12:52:00 +0000