£61 billion - the economic contribution of people aged 65 plus

Source : Age UK
Published on 01 July 2014 12:00 AM

£61 billion – the economic contribution of people aged 65 plus says Age UK report.

People aged 65 and over in the UK contributed £61 billion to the economy last year through employment, informal caring and volunteering, according to a new report by Age UK.[i] That’s equivalent to 4.6 per cent of gross value added, [ii] and six times more than the money spent on social care by local authorities in England.[iii]

The Age UK Chief Economist’s report found that £37 billion of the total amount came from employment and £11.4 billion from informal caring. Child care contributed £6.6 billion. Nearly £6 billion came from volunteering.

For the first time there are now more than eleven million people in the UK aged 65 and over[iv].  A growing number of them – more than a million - are working. Although some will be doing so from financial necessity many others want to work for longer because they are in good health and because what they achieve at work is valuable and worthwhile.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK said, 'These figures demonstrate the huge contribution that older people are making to our economy.  To put them in perspective, local authorities in England currently spend considerably less - just under £10 billion - on social care for older people[v].

'Many will be surprised by just how much older people contribute but it’s time we appreciated that they are playing a more and more important part in creating our prosperity. Older people bring a great deal of knowledge, skill and energy, as volunteers and as paid employees, and in doing so they are redefining what it means to be ‘an older person’.

Age UK’s  annual 'state of the nation' report, Agenda For Later Life, launched this morning, focuses on  what it’s like to be an older person in the UK today  and the importance of being prepared for the period of our lives after full time work potentially lasting between 30 and forty years.

Caroline Abrahams added, 'With our rapidly ageing population and the rising State Pension age it’s more important than ever that we consign age discrimination to the past and enable older people who want to continue to work to do so.'

'Youth unemployment is a serious concern and some may worry that older people who work are depriving young people of jobs; however, the economic evidence is clear that employing older workers does not affect the number of jobs available to younger people.[vi]

Unfortunately, many older people who want to keep working still find themselves locked out of the labour market as a result of age discrimination. More than 113,000 men and 65,000 women aged 50[vii] and over have currently been out of work for more than a year and are finding it really tough to get back into work. Many others have resorted to part time work when they would ideally like to work full-time.

The Age UK report also reveals that the bulk of child care undertaken by older people is carried out by those aged 65 and over – most frequently probably grandparents who look after their grandchildren, to enable their own adult children to work – an example of the crucial economic (and social) contribution older people often make, even when they are not in paid employment themselves.

For further details on how the estimates were calculated, interviews or a copy of Agenda For Later Life please contact the press office


-Ends-

Notes to editors

i] Age UK Chief Economist’s Report  Spring 2014
Based on analysis of ONS Labour Force Survey,  ONS Annual Survey of Housing and Caring,  ONS Economic Accounts, Understanding Society, Pacey Annual Survey of Child Minding Fees
[ii] Gross Value Added (GVA) is a measure of the production of goods and services in a country or region.  GDP is GVA plus taxes on products minus subsidies. Therefore GVA is more appropriate than GDP to analyse the contribution to economic activity.
[iii] £9.8 billion  - Local Government Financial Statistics England no. 24 2014
[iv] ONS UK Mid-13 Population Statistics 26 june 2014
[v] £9.8 billion  - Local Government Financial Statistics England no. 24 2014
[vi] Banks et al (2008) ‘Releasing jobs for the young? Early retirement and youth unemployment in the UK’.
Institute for Fiscal Studies Working Paper W10/02
[vii] ONS Labour Force Survey May2014

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    Caroline Abrahams

    Caroline Abrahams

    Age UK Director of External Affairs Caroline Abrahams.

    Caroline Abrahams: Charity Director

    Caroline joined Age UK in 2012.

    A social scientist and barrister, Caroline has spent her career in the voluntary and public sectors, mostly on children and families’ issues. She has worked in a senior capacity at the children’s charity, Action For Children and at the Local Government Association. Caroline has also been a policy adviser to Ministers and Shadow Ministers, and a senior civil servant. A former chair of the End Child Poverty campaign, Caroline’s policy interests include integrated health and care, family policy, poverty and the role of the voluntary sector.

    Caroline oversees Age UK’s influencing work and her team covers research, public policy, health influencing, media, campaigns and engagement and public affairs. She is also the Charity's lead spokesperson.

    Caroline decided to work for Age UK because she could see that there was a lot to do to change policy and practice so older people are served well, and because she passionately believes that Age UK can make a big difference.

    Professor James Goodwin

    James Goodwin

    James GoodwinProfessor James Goodwin: Head of Research

    James is head of our research department in Age UK.

    His responsibilities include:

    • funding and commissioning a wide portfolio of research (including social and economic research, and research to improve the health and wellbeing of older people);
    • knowledge management and translation;
    • and all research partnerships, internal and external, including international.

    He has a Visiting Professorship in Ageing at Loughborough University.

    Jane Vass

    Jane Vass

    Jane Vass - Head of Public PolicyJane Vass - Head of Public Policy

    Jane Vass has been Head of Public Policy at Age UK since 2012, having joined Age UK’s predecessor, Age Concern England as Financial Services Policy Adviser in 2006. She was previously an independent consumer consultant specialising in financial services from the consumer viewpoint. In this capacity she undertook research such as reports for the National Consumer Council on equity release and on financial capability for the Securities and Investments Board. She also wrote the Daily Mail Tax Guide for 10 years. She was a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel from 1999 to 2003, and from 1983 to 1993 she worked for Consumers’ Association.
    Jane was given an OBE for her services to financial services in the June 2015 Birthday Honours list.

    Jane Vass has been Head of Public Policy at Age UK since 2012, having joined Age UK’s predecessor, Age Concern England as Financial Services Policy Adviser in 2006.

    She was previously an independent consumer consultant specialising in financial services from the consumer viewpoint. In this capacity she undertook research such as reports for the National Consumer Council on equity release and on financial capability for the Securities and Investments Board.

    She also wrote the Daily Mail Tax Guide for 10 years. She was a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel from 1999 to 2003, and from 1983 to 1993 she worked for Consumers’ Association.

    Jane was given an OBE for her services to financial services in the June 2015 Birthday Honours list.

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